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%

 

1 June 2021 - CoTD Amosh (Sous chef at REX)

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Food review by James Hill and wine review by Richard Gibson

Food

In the kitchen today was Amosh KC sous chef at our club and his food was Nepalese themed. This was our monthly ‘marquee chef’ a great initiative of our Food Master Bill Alexiou-Hucker. If you know anyone who may be suitable for cooking for us Bill would appreciate being contacted

Starters.

We started with ‘Panipuri’ - Panipuri is a street snack that is extremely popular in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. Small in size, it consists of a hollow puri that is fried until crispy, then stuffed with a combination of flavoured water called pani, tamarind chutney, chaat masala, potatoes, onions, mango powder, chillis and chickpeas. It came to us today as a perfect example of puri, crisp, full of flavour and texture with a little residual heat on the palate.

Jhinga Soup - a wholesome cup made from stock, tamarind, prawns, pineapple, bean sprouts and seasoning. Wow, this was some soup, made a day before it also included coriander and cumin seeds and lemon. It is cooked like stock or bisque then strained. It was spicy, a good heat not overpowering our palates, intense prawn flavour leaving a great mouthfeel.

Chicken tandoori rolls made with lemon, yoghurt coriander stems chopped herbs onion and cumin seeds. Perfectly fried, easy to eat, chock full of flavour another standout canapé.

Comments from members that these were some of the best starters we’ve had at our lunches. Big bold flavours, authentic and perfectly executed.

Main 

Our main course today was ‘Grandmas Nepalese chicken tarkari’ (chicken curry) with a good balance of flavour and texture. The chicken was moist with a mild heat that came from black salt and Sichuan pepper

Accompaniments

A potato condiment cooked with tomato, onion and Sichuan pepper that added heat and a smoky flavour to the dish.

Homemade roti served crisp and warm, perfect for mopping up the wonderful sauce that accompanied our curry The chicken and sauce were cooked separately. The dish was served with Basmati rice.

Again high praise from the floor for this dish for its authenticity and originality, a wonderful combination of big and bold flavours.

Cheese

Cheeses today were selected by the REX kitchen and served with crisp biscuits and grain bread.

Bruny island C2 raw cow’s milk

This was the first raw milk cheese in Australia (2009) and being unpasteurised, is the purest expression of the cheesemakers craft.

C2 is the sort of cheese found throughout the mountains of France and northern Italy. A classic cooked curd cheese made in a traditional large form. C2 matures for 6 - 12 months, during which time it develops a sweet aroma and a mildly nutty flavour. The rind is wiped every week to encourage the surface bacteria that provide this cheese with much of its robust integrity.

James Healey, our Cheesemaster, said he’s been trying to get the cheese for our Society and this is the first time we’ve seen it presented.

Maffra cloth aged cheddar

Our second cheese was the Maffra cloth-aged cheddar from the heart of Gippsland for our lunch today. Maffra has always been enjoyed when it has been served previously and today was no different. The cheddar is matured to an optimal age of between 15 to 24 months and had a soft, crumbly texture with a long smooth palate.

The cheese course was served with quince and grapes.

Wine

The wines featured two Hunter Semillons (served with the Nepalese street food starters and superb Jhinga soup), one Cotes du Rhone GSM and a Coonawarra Shiraz served with the chicken curry main course and two Aussie Shiraz served with the cheese.

Thomas ‘Braemore’ Semillon 2017 and 2015

Grown on the iconic Braemore vineyard (50 yr old vines), the wine displayed characteristic Semillon lemon/lime citrus aromas and toasty, full-bodied citrus fruit on the palate (with good varietal purity) and high acidity on the finish.  Of the two, the 2015 was showing more development and was better-balanced showing complexity with less acid dominance than the 2017 (which is a biggish wine in need of more time).  Both wines went well with the spicy seafood starters and chicken tandoori rolls with the higher acid-driven 2017 perhaps handling the complexity of the food better.

Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2010

A gsm blend (50% shiraz, 40% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre), matured in American and French oak.

The nose showed developed ripe blackberry fruit and pepper.  On the palate, the wine was fully developed with attractive soft tannins and hints of vanilla oak but at 10 years old now lacks complexity and is unlikely to improve – nevertheless an attractive easy-drinking, reliable wine with just enough mid-palate fruit depth and acidity to balance well with the complex curry. Alc 14%

Charles Melton “Grains of Paradise” Shiraz 2009

Aged on lees for 24 months in a mix of seasoned American and French oak (60/40), the wine reflects Melton’s unique style of winemaking.

At 11 years old, there was still some fruit richness and fragrance on the nose, with some attractive sweet vanilla /oak characters but regrettably, it remains a bit too jammy/overripe – perhaps not everyone’s idea of “paradise” in a glass.

The wine was better on the palate, medium-bodied with some complexity (with a depth of fruit showing) and actually drank reasonably well with the curry  – however it was still “hot’ and tannic on the finish.  Alc 14%  

Wynn’s Coonawarra Shiraz 2009

Wynn’s Coonawarra entry-level revealed attractive blackberry and spice characters on the nose, a medium-bodied, developed dark berry and plummy (but not jammy) richness on the palate with spice and cedar notes.  The tannins were dry and well integrated.

Overall an attractive, balanced (albeit not complex) wine with good length drinking exceptionally well now. It was the better match with the curry.   Alc 13.5%

Tyrrells Stephen Shiraz 2009

Sourced from old (50 yr+) vines and matured in old large (2500L and 500L casks), the wine shows dark red and blackberry aromas on the nose with spicy vanilla oak notes.  On the palate, the wine displayed attractive, pretty (but still biggish) fruit, toasty oak notes and savoury, well-integrated tannins with lively acidity and considerable length on the finish.

Overall an elegant finely textured and balanced Hunter Shiraz (perhaps a leaner but no less complex style of shiraz than the more traditional Tyrrells shiraz styles (Vat8/9 , 4 acres)).

In the absence of a 4th bottle of the Tyrrells, one table was served a Lindemans HR Shiraz 1403 (2014) – a lovely big fruit wine with a refined tannin structure but not quite yet in balance - still a baby that needs more time.

All the cheese wines went well with the robust cow's milk cheeses

25 May 2021 - CoTD Mark Bradford

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Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Richard Gibson

Food Review

Hmm, well lunch today was a Dickens of a meal. I have been requested to provide an exec summary for those that do not or have not the time for my long missives.

Exec Summary;

“Less is more” and “Please sir, can I have some more and not another subway”, accompanied by several cold-climate Aussie shiraz.

Now for the real story, worthy of a Charles Dickens novel.  The one thing that was not missing from this meal was bread!

As good old Charlie wrote regarding Oliver, many years ago; “Please sir can I have some more?”

The 3 canapes were accompanied by a 2019 Tyrrells HDV Semillon, which was very well balanced and appropriate with the canapes.  This was a good wine with length, lemon, lime and fresh fruit.

The tasty fish cakes made an impression and the pork balls were dipped luxuriously in a hoisin sauce and were delicious, but prone to falling apart on the serving plate.

The prawn wrapped in a deep-fried crispy light batter was also tasty, again as long as you were careful and able to get it into your mouth without decorating the carpet with the seafood, as many did.  Good thing we aren’t paying for the cleaning bill. As Mark said, “the vacuum cleaner was his best friend”!

The second white was a 2019 Italian Langhe Favorita from Alessandria, a very different type of grape than most of us were used to. Nice palate, but not exceptional. There are over 300 indigenous grapes residing in this area.

It was slightly reminiscent of a sweetish sherry.

Lunch was called and we expectantly sat down for the main course.  Imagine our surprise when we were greeted by a very large bun, encompassing most of the plate and a very small serving of the meat and veg.

Billed as the recreation of Dien Bien Fu, this time the French Bread won as not enough Vietnamese food arrived.  Mark, remarked that his local Vietnamese bakery let him down with the “baguette”.

A common comment was where is the main meal?  I must admit that I have never had a subway lunch at the Society, so I suppose there is a first for everything.  The idea was to take the small portions on the plate, rip the baguette in half and voila, decorate your baguette with the meal in a true subway fashion.

The food was very tasty, however, there was really only enough for a third of the baguette to be filled.

I think that somewhere along the line, Mark’s slide rule slipped when calculating out the portions that were required.  This was measured right down to the last gram, as there certainly was not enough of the main meal for everyone to be satisfied. Indeed, we had an unplanned extra member show up, and there wasn’t even enough food for the chef, who had to settle for a steak, rather than the food on offer.  Second helpings were certainly not in order as the pot had already been scraped bare, with the first go around.  There was a lot of scratching of heads on what to eat next, a bit like a hobbit’s meal, wondering what was for afternoon tea whilst consuming the lunch. A few of the elves found themselves afterwards in a Spanish establishment sating their appetite and quenching their thirst.

As this was a wine tasting, the six cool-climate shiraz’s were already poured.

The French cheese was a Secret de Scey (like a Morbier) with an ash wash through it.  Very creamy for a semi-hard cheese.  This was accompanied by more bread and some crackers. Notes from the importer:

Australian regulations prohibit the importation of the beautiful raw

milk cheese Morbier. Cheesemaker Jean Perrin has created a

pasteurized version that’s so good, it’s hard to tell the difference

from the original. His is called, Secret de Scey.

 

This cheese was originally made from two milkings. After the curds

were set using morning milk a layer of charcoal and salt were placed

over the curds to protect them. Later, curds from the evening milking

were added.

 

It has a natural brine washed-rind and is matured for four months or

longer. As it matures the cheese develops an ivory-coloured semi-soft

interior and mild creamy flavour.

The comments from the room were generally in agreement with the tastiness of the food as well as the papacy of it and the lunch was then closed.

Wine Review

The wines featured a Hunter Semillon and a northern Italian white with the starters and six cool-climate Shiraz from five of Australia’s best cool-climate producers with the main and cheese.

The six reds were sourced from four of the best regions for producing cool climate Shiraz and shared some common characteristics in their vinification; handpicking and minimal intervention, whole berry and whole bunch fermentation (with some time on skins), and aging in a mix of mostly old oak (circa 20-25% new) - with considerable restraint shown on oak usage – the result is a very attractive range of balanced, elegant wines with (relatively) low alcohol.    All were good matches with the spicy Vietnamese-influenced shanks.

Tyrell’s HVD Semillon 2019

The HVD is made from handpicked fruit, sourced from Tyrell’s old vines, and sees minimal time on yeast before bottling early to maintain freshness (no oak).   The wine showed aromas of lemon/lime citrus and fresh/vibrant fruit on the palate matched with chalky acidity and assertive finish – overall a complex wine with extreme length.

Fratelli Allessandria Langhe Favorita 2019

The wine is made from the indigenous Piedmont grape varietal, Favorita.  On the nose, it presented fresh, delicate floral characters (reminiscent of a Vermentino) with hints of citrus. On the palate it was savoury and mineralised with a very persistent finish. 

Both whites, with their assertive length and acidity, were a good match with the tasty spicy canapes. 

Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2014

The grapes are sourced from high-level vineyards in the Adelaide Hills (at Lenswood and Balhannah).

On the nose, the wine was dark berry fruit-forward and vibrant with spicy, herbal notes and pepper.

On the palate, it displayed fleshy cherry/mulberry fruit with fine-grained tannins (which perhaps were a little aggressive at this stage). Overall, the Shaw and Smith was a medium-bodied, savoury, and elegant wine showing good fruit purity and balance with a long and layered palate.  One of the best wines of the day and one to watch as it ages.    Alc 14%

Craiglee Shiraz 2014

The Craiglee is sourced from 40+ year-old vines in Sunbury, Victoria just northwest of Melbourne.

On the nose, we saw attractive red berry fruits with earthy, cedar characters with savoury spicy and pepper notes.  The palate exhibited a savoury, spicy cherry fruit richness, was medium-bodied with well-integrated soft tannins.

In summary, it was an earthy and elegant (though not overly complex) wine showing excellent balance and was popular on the day.  Alc 13.5%

By Farr Shiraz 2014

The wine was sourced from cool climate vines (dating to 1994) grown in the Geelong region by the Farr family.  The wine is co-fermented with very small quantities (< 3%) of viognier grapes to add richness.

There was some bottle variation in the wines (the By Farr being the only wine under cork) – at least one of the bottles showed some unpleasant ‘barnyard’ brettanomyces on the nose. The better bottles displayed pretty perfumed fruit with spice and pepper notes on the nose and on the palate was earthy, savoury and full-bodied with a little whole bunch stalkiness. The brett affected wine(s) was unfortunately quite stalky with aggressive tannins dominating.   Alc 13.5%

Bests Great Western Bin ‘0’ Shiraz 2014

The wine is sourced from grapes grown in the Grampians region of central west Victoria. The wine is one of Bests premium ‘Icon’ range, made from low-yielding very old plantings dating from the late 19th to mid-20th century.

On the nose, the wine displayed complex earthy/meaty notes (perhaps a hint of reduction in one bottle) with bright/opulent blackberry fruit and spice.  On the palate the wine was medium-bodied with dark cherry/blackberry fruit intensity and flavour and showed attractive ‘cigar box’ and licorice characters, firm grainy well-integrated tannins, and considerable length.

In summary, a refined and elegant wine showing great fruit depth and complexity.  One of the better wines of the day.  Alc 13.5%

Seppelt St Peters Grampian Shiraz 2010

The St Peters was served as red wine number 5 on the day.

The grapes are sourced from selected parcels from Seppelts best blocks in its Grampians vineyards and are aged for approx. 14 months in a combination of 3000 L and 500 L vats and 225 L barrels – resulting in very restrained oak treatment.

The St Peters is a crowd favourite of the Society but unfortunately today there was considerable bottle variation.  The version served on the writer's table was out of balance with dried, extracted fruit and is unrated.  Another table with a better example reported that the wine showed attractive perfumed fruit and spice, excellent structure, balance, complexity and good length. Alc 14%

Bests Great Western Bin ‘0’ Shiraz 2010

The Bests 2010 was served as wine number 6 on the day.

On the nose, the wine displayed a more developed version of the 2014 vintage with similar complex earthy characters but more developed savoury fruit notes.  On the palate, the wine was medium-bodied with restrained developed savoury fruit and excellent balance with fully integrated tannins.

In summary, the 2010 was an elegant and balanced wine, still retaining some complexity and liveliness, that was drinking very well on the day. Alc 13.5%

 

18 May 2021 - CoTD Denis Redfern

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Food and wine review by Robert Wiggins and photos by James Hill

Today Denis/Dennis squared with Trish and Jennifer created an Indian delight to a full house.

It was again back to normalcy, where we could all stand around and converse with each other throughout the canapes phase.  We had just started getting back to normal, when over the past couple of weeks, the imposition of minor crackdowns on standing and masks, due to the unknown covid carrier, cast an unwelcome shadow of the reality of the virus.

A number of the members have already been vaccinated and hopefully over the next few months, if we all follow suit, this should stand all of us in good stead, with only high blood pressure, occasional gout and abused livers to contend with.

Denis Redfern was the originator and creator of this wonderful melange of Indian food, more than ably accompanied by his wife Trish, Dennis Cooper and his wife Jennifer Darin (fantastic to see her here in the Society again).  To top it all off, once they had completed their part of the meal, it was off somewhere else to lunch for Dennis and Jennifer, to leave Denis Redfern to garner all of the accolades.

If there was one criticism that was repeated around the room about the canapes, it was that there was only one of each for every diner. This was firmly policed by the wait staff, presumably on strict orders from the kitchen. They were so tasty that I know if more were available, many more would have been crammed into our mouths, as each one was a separate delight.

The samosas, with Indian Spices from far off Chatswood, had a bit of heat which was aptly put out by the Tasmanian Tamar Valley’s Leo Buring’s Leopold Riesling, which was floral, dry and aromatic, with lovely purity and a high acid level, that worked wonders as a fire extinguisher on the palate after the tasty bite. Great accompaniment and matching of flavours and textures.

The onion bhajis, a mixture of onion, coriander and Besan flour, were deep-fried had the appropriate crunch and a bit of sweetness, which went well with the second aperitif wine, the German Kabinett Mosel Riesling.  This wine with its residual sugar content was an excellent companion to Indian cuisine. Besan flour is actually made from ground chickpeas, rather than wheat.

The canapes were rounded off with some small tasty Masala Prawns, tempered in a sauce of garlic, coriander and mustard seeds, with just enough of the Mosel to finish the first act off.

The bell was rung and it was all time for everyone to go to their corners, and be seated.

Denis had artfully catered for all levels of tolerance of heat for the members' palates by placing small tubs of Raita, tomato sambal, mango chutney and a hot chutney on the table for each person to determine how far along the temperature chart they wished to pursue.  The pickles and relish were all consumed by the end of the lunch and no one complained about the meal being too hot or spicy as they were the masters of their own level of heat.

The main course consisted of Raffles chicken, Rogan Josh and Sookhe Aloo, on a bed of long-grain rice.

It was agreed around the table and the room, of the three concoctions on the plate, the standout winner was the Rogan Josh. There was even enough left over for a second helping in a bowl for each table, which returned empty by the time it made its way around the diners.  Some extra Nans and pappadums were extremely helpful in ensuring that all of the liquid on the plates was mopped up.

The wines that accompanied the meal were very big Aussie Barossa Shirazes.  They were a great match, with their full-bodied dense flavour and high alcohol content that seem to polarise members; who either love or detest them.

The first lunch Shiraz was a 2009 Pirathon from Kalleske which was elegant, restrained, pretty with spice, not jammy with fine tannins and great with the curry. It was also described as ripe, jammy heavy and not fat with the tannins not matured well. … different tastes! 

The second wine was a 2008 Torbreck Struie, which also went very well with the food.

The cheese was a L'Amuse Brabander, which was a semi-hard Goats milk from the Netherlands. The porcelain-white paste of this cheese is a stark contrast to the deep amber colour synonymous with the usual classic Dutch gouda, as it is a goat’s milk gouda – a lesser-known variety, which has been made in the Netherlands since the early 1800s.   Brabander comes from the Brabant region in the south.

It was complemented with some almonds and raisins, plus red and white grapes.  The two cheese wines, which came early enough to also enjoy with the food, were also great with the curry.

There was a 2009 Kaesler Old Vine, which came from vines older than 35 years, which luxuriated for a long time in an oak bath, then was served up as a “monster”, with chocolate and aggressive tannins!

The 2008 Hardys Bin HRB D646 (such an elegant name), was a blend of McLaren Vale and Clare, which many thought was the wine of the day.  Described as an attractively balanced wine with good tannins and went very well with the goat’s cheese.

The coffee was what is now the Society’s main blend, with just enough gravel to make it a good palate cleanser.  So much better than some of the dishwater that has been served up on some occasions.

Commenting on the meal;

As one member remarked, quoting the late Max Lake; “Strong food demands a strong wine”.  However, another member then remarked that “palates change”.  It is fantastic that here in Australia we have so much choice in both our wines and food.

Josef, who has been known in the past for some of his critical observations of the dishes served up by members, remarked that he has never had a meal that has “come together, better than this one”. I can only speculate that this is indeed high praise for the lunch.

Chilly informed us that the Struie was named by the winemaker, who used to be a lumberjack in Scotland and the Struie was the forest where he would fell his victims. A very interesting change of profession.  It certainly is an educational society. I am not sure if there is a winemaker in Australia and Europe that Chilly doesn’t know.  We are extremely fortunate to have such a great resource for our own wine master.

Chilly is also looking to donate some of his time to some wine masterclasses during the rest of the year.  This will be for both aspiring new members as well as the existing cohort and will be held in the evening.  These events will have an extremely small number of places available.  More of this fantastic initiative will be discussed over the next few weeks, as times are organised.  If you are interested, it would be advisable to let Chilly know as there will probably be waitlists.

Speaking to Denis about his meal and creations, it was interesting that India was not one of the many places in the world where he has lived, however in some of the far-flung corners of the globe that he called home, came many of these recipes.

The chicken curry was actually a 1950’s recipe from the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore, via his parents and grandmother and as such is more of a Malaysian style curry than an Indian one.

Next week will be a wine tasting week, with some great wines being lined up by Chilly. 

Mark Bradford will be in the kitchen, recreating his version of the battle of Dien Bien Phu; a mix of French and Vietnamese. And you don’t need to go all of the way to Cabramatta, which it was remarked that if you drive a Merc there, you will not be hassled as it is the vehicle of choice by the local import/export entrepreneurs.

Vietnamese food is such a great balance between all of the tastes and it is with anticipation that we look forward to Mark’s version, with some interesting iconic wines thrown in.

It is advisable to book early as the wine tasting lunches are always booked out!

 

 

11 May 2021 - CoTD Paul Kuipers

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Food review by Nick Reynolds and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Once a year for the past nine years or so, member John Goldsbrough (Goldy) has arranged for his good friend Paul Kuipers to cook for the Society. It is always an event to both look forward to and remember.

We had a gratifying number of guests at today’s meal, including Goldy’s son Gavin (hopefully a potential future member) as well as several recent and prospective members.

Up until 2019, Paul owned and ran the much-loved Parramatta dining institution Courtney’s Brasserie. With the construction of new developments in Parramatta doing to Paul what the light rail did to so many restaurants in Surry Hills, Paul was forced to close Courtney’s. He then faced the pandemic. What happened next showed Paul’s versatility and resilience. In the past year, he has become an executive chef for a number of remote-location sites, increased his mentoring and teaching load, expanded his catering business to include events run by Government Ministers (including the Premier) and, most recently, is working on setting up a distillery in the country using equipment from a recently-closed sake brewery. We look forward to trying his whisky in a few years’ time.

At today’s lunch, Paul showed us the depth of thought, care, and skill that made his restaurant and is making his catering so successful.

Recent CoVid restrictions meant that we once again had to sit for canapés. Paul provided us with a trio of seafood canapés that set the scene for the quality meal that we were to have today.

The first of these was a dish that made many relieved that we were sitting down with a knife and fork rather than standing with a glass in hand (Eating canapé chicken wings while standing? Your challenge has been met and exceeded). The dish comprised a shucked Pacific oyster with spaghetti, dill, capers, and salmon roe. Some oyster-purist members queried the need for accompaniments to the oyster but Paul later explained that the dish was spaghetti with an oyster sauce rather than the other way around, which made a lot more sense as the well-cooked al dente spaghetti was the hero of the dish.

The second appetiser was an extremely tasty prawn bisque. Lastly, Paul took the puff pastry offcuts from the main course (see below), ran them back through his pastry laminating machine and then used these for the small pastry tartlet cases that he filled with a mix of miso, eggs, chive, and eggplant. This was a seafood-based umami bomb that created a good bridge into the main course.

For the main course, Paul presented a flawlessly executed technical masterpiece. His Chicken Pithivier was encased in top-class puff pastry made by Paul. The pie comprised a sublimely moist piece of chicken breast surrounded by a chicken and tarragon forcemeat encased in two slices of confit field mushroom. The forty-eight perfectly formed pies were accompanied by a reduced chicken stock sauce that Paul enhanced with mirepoix of vegetables plus sage and thyme with chopped tarragon added at service. He also presented freshly shelled peas that were cooked à point, just past raw. To finish the sauce, he also upped the umami content by adding both oyster and shimeji mushrooms. The dish was universally acclaimed by diners, with Greg Chugg commenting that it was the best meal he had been served at the Society for many years.

At normal lunches, we are used to pieces of cheese with a separate salad or other accompaniments. Today we were presented with a cheese course that Paul often serves as an entrée. Having tried it a few weeks ago, Goldy wanted it as our cheese course and it proved a perfect finish to today’s meal.

Warm figs were quartered but not cut through. Paul inserted a piece of blue cheese (in this case roaring forties blue from Tasmania) into the centre of the cuts. Heated so that the cheese was melted, the warmed figs were served on a bed of rocket. A luscious sauce that was served over the figs was made with more of the cheese, thickened cream, honey and an essence of prosciutto. Served at the table with some more of the sauce, the dish was a sweet and mainly savoury taste sensation that wrapped up a delightful meal.

One of the wines today accompanying the cheese course was one of Australia’s great fortified wines: a delicious Morris Old Premium Rare Muscat. This was generously provided by Goldy in a nod to his 30 years of Society membership. 

Paul is a chef at the top of his game and, through Goldy, a great friend of the Society. We look forward to him cooking again for us in the future.

With Paul’s plate of a trio of canapés, we presented a pair of Hunter Semillon. The first was a younger wine (2109) from a younger producer (Matt Burton of Gundog Wines). It was good to see a young Hunter white with its fresh lemon fruit and zippy acidity. It was quite textural with a good mouthfeel. It was a wine that split the room regarding style and perhaps quality. The cellar master found it on point with an extra layer of complexity. Of note, Gundog tends to specialise in Shiraz and Semillon. It also makes wine from Hilltops and Canberra. The older wine (2014) from an older producer (Brokenwood). It had evolved into the recognisable buttered toast aromas and flavours. Perhaps a little lacking in vibrancy.

The two Shiraz (both from 2009) with the main course were from the cool and warm ends of the viticultural spectrum. The Nick O’Leary Canberra Shiraz was showing its age with some of the original peppery, spice notes showing more earthy, plum characters. The Lowe Wines Icon Block 5 Shiraz was naturally in a bolder style with firm tannins and good weight. While still showing fruit aromas and flavours, they are developing and the oak is starting to sit on the wine.

For the cheese course, Goldy was keen to provide his Morris Muscat, so the Society was able to match this with a sweet white from Bordeaux. Sauternes is a classic match with blue cheese and today we had one of its neighbours from Sainte-Croix-du-Mont. Located across the Garonne from the village of Barsac, this wine was from one of its more renowned chateaux, Chateau La Rame. The 2011 vintage was difficult for red in Bordeaux, but the cool, damp, humid autumn was ideal for the growth of botrytis. This wine (served in half bottles) showed lots of the traditional apricot aromas with a rich, luscious palate. A good foil for the figs with blue cheese.

However, the ''pièce de résistance" for the day was the Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat. It’s been often said before that this style of wine from Rutherglen is one of the world’s most unique wines. This was certainly no exception. With an average age of over 20 years, it paired the concentrated raisined complexity gained after time in barrel with the freshness of younger material. The art of blending is very much part of these wines and today we saw it at its best. Separately judged at 100 points by both James Suckling and James Halliday. Thanks Goldy.

4 May 2021 - CoTD Gary Linnane

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Review by Robert Wiggins

If some of these comments sound like a broken record it is possibly because on this day in 1878 Thomas Edison's Phonograph was shown for the first time at Grand Opera House.  Also 89 years ago, one of the men who kept the troops lubricated during the time of prohibition, good old Al Capone, made his way to the big house in Atlanta, not for the murder and mayhem he created, but for tax evasion. Also, today, the 4th richest person in the world, Bill Gates has announced he is getting a divorce. A good tip is to buy your partner flowers often, put on some music you both like and have a good wine; (not Al’s bathtub gin).  These simple steps help to keep the divorce lawyers away.

What is the primary comment you can make about today’s meal cooked by Gary Linnane? It delivered!

It was exactly what it was supposed to be; not nouvelle cuisine, not fine dining, but the right meal for a cool, rainy autumn afternoon; comfort food.  It was simple but extremely well put together. A meal that touched the sides of your stomach and left you quite satisfied.

The three canapes with the assistance of James Tinslay were an interesting mix; red on a biscuit, green on a biscuit and a Palmiers.

James again served savoury Palmiers, similar to what was served a couple of weeks ago. This is not the sweet breakfast ones that many of you may have tried in the past.  They consisted of pastry, Philly cheese, anchovy, dried tomato slathered in butter.

The red was certainly a blend of capsicum, however, the interesting surprise with this finger food, was the addition of both raw cashew nuts and cooked brown rice.

The green was almost universally picked by the members as an avocado/guacamole dob on the rye cracker; however, it did have an interesting taste that veered away from normal guacamole.

This was because it wasn’t one.  It actually turned out to be a green tahini dish, with sesame seeds and coriander.  This was a big surprise to everyone.  Very tricky Gary and James!

One comment was our canapes today were “health food on a biscuit”!

We’ve come a long way since canapes were considered as a bit of Bega cheese on a Jatz cracker.  Nick pointed out that our canapé meister; Mr Peter Manners, is the one responsible for this great change in the Society’s cuisine.

Chilly had picked out very special whites; a 22-year-old Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard Riesling to accompany Gary and James’ canapes, however, this did not go quite according to plan as all four of them were dead on arrival.  Two were corked and two were oxidized. Quite a shame as when these were produced in the last century, they were extremely successful wines.  The same wine, but a 2016 rather than the 1999 was also served.  It would have been most interesting to compare the two vintages.

A couple of other whites including a Tyrrells were also served with the canapes.

For the main, Gary served up to us a slow-cooked lamb shoulder stew, with fresh mint leaves on the plate as well as a generous serving of perfectly cooked broccolini.

The origins of this slow-cooked French peasant food, which has now become very high end, were the peasants in France, who would toil all day in the fields.  However, before they went to work in the fields, they would put on dinner, early in the morning, in a large pot, slowly simmering in a far corner of the fireplace with a lid on.  During the day, the cook would come back to ensure the fire was still alight and a bit of stirring of the pot and tossing in a few veggies and herbs.

At the end of a hard days’ work, dinner would be ready for them, complete with loaves of bread to soak up the gravy.  Well, this is exactly what we had today, sans the toiling in the fields.

Gary simmered the lamb shoulder in a pot for several hours, accompanied by a complementary portion of eggplant, that was very useful to soak up the fat that was rendered from the lamb.

The big, aged, Aussie cabernets were the right accompaniment to the meal. Chilly commented that this was the best-matched meal that he has had in the Society.  The food and wines were a perfect blend.

One very good indication of the success of the meal was the lack of gravy on the plates at the end of the meal.  Fittingly, most of the members had cleaned their plates with the plain white bread that was a great foil and sop for the delicious gravy.

The two lunch wines were a 2006 Rosemount Mountain Blue; this time the real deal and not a potential copy, as was served a couple of weeks ago in the guise of 16-year-old 2005 Rosemount Mudgee Shiraz Cabernet, which had been passed off many years ago to the purchasers of this wine as one of the Society’s favourites; a Mountain Blue.

The second wine was a 1993 Lindemans Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet.  This 28-year-old wine still had great fruit when opened, very soft and good on the palate, however, as with most of these older wines, there was some cork variation and this wine was best consumed shortly after opening.  If you left some of this wine in your glass towards the end of the meal, it then resembled vinegar rather than an elegant wine. 

This wine was produced when Ray Kidd was the CEO of Lindemans and waging his war with the dreaded enemy; Penfolds. I don’t know who really won that fight, but I am sure that it spurred both wineries on to making great wines to defeat the opposition.  We the consumers are the victors! A bit different to today when many of the wines have been made to simply quell the thirst of our Chinese comrades. Quite often quantity over quality. Given the politics that Australia now finds itself in, it will be interesting to see how the wine industry changes and copes.

There was also an extra wine on a few tables, as the throng were crowded onto four, rather than five tables. Ours was a 2009 Wynns Coonawarra grey label shiraz, which went very well with the main meal.

The two cheese wines were a 2013 Vasse Felix The Filius Cab Merlot, which tasted of cassis, a touch green, and a little bit unripe fruit, with a very grippy feel, similar to the Bordeaux last week.

The other wine was a Wynns 2010 Cab Sav Black label.  A wine that always seems to have the same consistency over most vintages.  This was with hints of chocolate, and mint as befitting a Coonawarra wine, with jammy notes, red currants and tannins that were dry and not fine like the Vasse from Margaret River.

The cheese was a Cloth-Aged Cheddar from Maffra in Victoria and went extremely well with the big Aussie wines.  Gary also accompanied the cheese with both shelled pistachios and a raisin/sultana mix that we speculated had been soaked in either brandy, cognac or port.  It was delicious and went extremely well with the wines.

It turned out that they had been soaked in a 20-year-old Museum Muscat from Yalumba.  The coffee was the usual society blend.

We had the attendance of a couple of guests, one of whom was Marcus l; one of our past Presidents. It was great to see him back at the Society and we all hope to see more of his presence at lunch in the future.  Anyone who knows Marcus is certainly aware of his wine knowledge and wine database, which are both very impressive.

Next week we have Paul Kuipers in the kitchen with Goldy as Exec chef.  This should be a great lunch, as Paul in the past has been highly acclaimed by the Good Food guide when he was running his signature Parramatta restaurant. We are very fortunate to have Paul cook for us again.

The following week will have Denis Redfern, cooking up another delicious storm in the kitchen.  He has revealed his menu to me and I will certainly be there to enjoy the food and company.

One of the members stood up today during the comments and voiced what we now all feel, especially those that have been missing in action over the fear of covid during the past year; that it now seems like we have gone back to normal.

Good company, great food today, with very well-matched wines on a cold and rainy afternoon, where else would you possibly like to escape to, for a couple of hours? 

See you next week for an upcoming meal that promises to be superb.   

27 April 2021 - CoTD Gary Patterson

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Review by Robert Wiggins

So in my neophyte position of lunch recording, this would have to be the most difficult task to date.

Gary was cooking and although Gary is a good friend, I have to report this without fear or favour, here is what transpired.

I have to say that this was probably the most entertaining lunch that I have been to in the past few years; there were numerous, humorous comments made around the room.

It was a bit like an Italian Spaghetti movie; “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Co-indecently, it was also a full moon, but not just any full moon, it was a super moon. Now we all know what a full moon does to animals and lunatics and so a super moon amplifies this effect.

A super moon means that the moon is in its perigee; occurring during the Moon's closest approach to Earth. This one is known as the Pink Moon, and given the smoke from the burn-offs surrounding Sydney, it was pink. 

The Lunch was the end of the month lunch; therefore, it was a Wine Tasting lunch. The focus was on the wine, rather than the food as we were entertained to a tasting old Bordeaux’s.

The place was jumping as it was a full house, with some members having to be turned away.  We are extremely privileged to have wines like these in our cellar as many are simply unobtainable now, given the enormous rise in popularity (and price) of all things French in a bottle. As Chilly noted, with these wines, even though some of them might be past their peak, and therefore best served sooner rather than holding on to them, as we are an educational society, it is so interesting to be able to sample these 15-20 fine wines.  With some of the latest vintages, some of the bracket of Bordeaux’s that we had would currently cost over $500 per bottle.

The comments on the food and wines were very entertaining, especially the acerbic comments raised by Chuggy, who was in fine form and certainly could not be stopped.  Some of the wines were potentially different to what some of the throng were expecting, however Roger summed it up very eloquently with “this is what Bordeaux tastes like!”

So onto;

The Good;

The wines were good, with a couple being great

The entrée wines were a 2014 Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling, which was vibrant and fresh and great drinking, plus a 2018 Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc.  Most of the assembled group seemed to prefer the Leo.

The six meal wines were a 2005 Chateau Haut Batailley Pauillac 5th, which was a 70% cab and 30% Merlot blend and quite nice.  The 2005 Chateau Talbot St Julien 4th was very well balanced

These were followed by the mystery year of Chateau Haut Bages Liberal Pauillac 5th, which was eventually revealed as a 02.  It was dry and chalky and actually a bit disappointing.

The final three wines were all 2002’s, with a guessing game of either Margaux, Pauillac or St Julien.

The Pauillac, again with the 30% component of merlot was rich with chocolate tannins, almost like an Australian wine.  It was the favourite for most of the crowd.

The Margot with ¾ cabernet had a touch of greenness and possibly a bit underripe.  The fruit and structure are not there for this wine to keep.

These two wines were very good when initially opened however by the end of the lunch they had faded to grey and it was clear that they should be consumed very soon after opening.

The St Julien when initially compared to the Margaux and Pauillac, was not in the same class, however, by the end of the lunch this tannic, big tough grippy wine demonstrated that it had the structure to keep going with plenty of life left in this vintage and did not fade away like the other two wines in this bracket.

This led to another masterclass by Chilly.  We are very fortunate to have a member who can eloquently describe all of the wines and most of these comments are from his explanations.  A question was posed on whether or not to use a decanter, with some of these older wines.  Like everything it “depends”.  A general rule is if the wine is older then bruising it through decanting and rapid oxidization with exposure to the air can very easily result in a wine that rapidly degrades, as shown with the almost 20-year-old Pauillac and Margaux.

His advice on decanting is generally if you have a younger wine that needs to be infused with air, but you do not have enough time, then decanting can assist in speeding up the process, making the younger wine more palatable to drink at an earlier stage than normal.  Again it “depends”; some wines are made to drink early and some to lay down.

The Bad;

Having to turn away members, the lunch was so full that any guests of members were precluded from attending. (Please book early to avoid disappointment).

The Ugly;

Well, there is no way around the description of the Beef Cheeks, just impossible to dress that puppy up in a compliment.  It was so disappointing for Gary Patterson and Peter Karr, his associate in crime, given the enormous effort that they had put into these cheeks.  I was informed that at a sample trial lunch a week before, they delivered a fantastic melt in the mouth beef cheek.  However, for many (as there was some variation on the outcome), it was difficult to have it melt in your mouth as it was impossible to cut it to get it into your mouth.

Some members had a brilliant experience with the cheeks, but most got the jawbone.  Gary said that it was a combination of the product and trying to cook too many at once. This is an educational society and this is a great lesson for anyone in the future who is looking to do beef cheeks to ensure that they do not place too many in the pot to cook at once.

The sauce with peppercorns which accompanied with it, was delicious, as well as the mash and the 2 green beans.

The entrée was a pastry basket filled with seafood, including prawns, fish and scallops, lathered in a very tasty sauce.  Mine was delicious, however, as with the cheeks, there was quite a bit of variation, ranging from what the members received in their basket, from very generous portions to a lack of some of the ingredients and very little sauce for others.  The basket itself was quite generous, with very light crispy pastry.  As we had a full house with a plus one, for portion control, given the time limits and the uncertainty of how many will attend, it can be very difficult to cook for so many at once with perfect portion control.

It may be helpful on lunches where we have a larger number of attendees to have more help in the kitchen, especially from members who have not had this experience very often.  I am sure that Bill will give you a tap on the back if necessary.

The cheese was a Victorian cheddar from Maffra dairy, simple yet delicious, as a good accompaniment to a very rich meal.

The coffee was again the house blend, which went well with the cheese.

Upcoming Lunches;

The next couple of week’s lunches look brilliant and Chilly has promised some interesting tasty wine surprises. 

Next week Gary Linnane is serving some hearty winter fare; who doesn’t like a wonderful lamb shoulder as the weather cools down?  The following week has one of our Marquee chefs; Paul Kuipers of the Courtney's Brasserie in Parramatta fame.  The numerous reviews for his food from both patrons and the Good Food Guide, ensure a culinary delight. 

Both of these events are booking out very quickly.

If you don’t want to miss out, then please book early.  It also helps the chef plan for the meal and also ensures that you will have a place at the table to enjoy your self with your friends and foes.

20 April 2021 - CoTD David Madson

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Food review by Robert Wiggins

As with last week, the lunch was a very interesting affair, with all of the members moving around the room conversing, especially around the drinks table, with a couple of whites being served.  All thoughts and memories of the black days of Covid had evaporated, on reflection, just realising how lucky and fortunate we are to be living in Australia at this juncture in time.  In the UK, they are just now being able to go to an outside venue in the snow! With limited seating and limited times. In the USA they are supposed to wear masks when rioting!  Yet here we are being able to have a very real sense of normalcy.

The numbers on the day were down a bit, with around 30 attending.  However, next week our wine tasting lunch is almost sold out as Chilly is putting on some very special, old and expensive Bordeaux’s.  Certainly, not one to be missed and if you want to attend, you had better be quick to register!

One request when paying for your lunch by EFT, to make Mike’s job less tedious, is when noting your payment can you also please place the date of the lunch after your name on the description box when you do a transfer.  Ie for today’s lunch I would have on my information “Wiggins 20-4”.  That extra bit of information will greatly help Mike with reconciliations.

David Madson was the chef of the day, ably assisted by both James Tinslay and a soon to be new member, Duane Roy, who runs the Glandore Winery in the Hunter, well picked by David as he arrived with a well-deserved reputation; he was previously a chef, before becoming a vintner.

The whites were quite delicious with an 8-year-old Lindemans 2013 Hunter Valley Semillon, Reserve Bin 1350, described by some as quite flinty, and great drinking right now.  Also on offer was one of Duane’s wines, a 2019 Glandore Savagnin, a full-bodied slightly sweet wine as a great foil for the Lindemans.  The three canapes rotating around the room were a combination of small chicken balls (lots of unhappy roosters out there), which many thought were beef, accompanied with a sweet chilli sauce; they were a bit on the dry side, as David explained the chicken he ordered was not what came and he had to make the best of what he received.

The other surprise was savoury Palmiers, not the sweet breakfast ones that many of you may have tried in the past.  They consisted of pastry, Philly cheese, ham, dried tomato, topped with grated Cheddar cheese and slathered in butter.

The third dish was a spoon entree with Sashimi-grade scallops mixed with finely chopped kohlrabi and granny smith apples, soy, lemon juice and creme fraiche.

The Gong has now been reinstated to its rightful position of announcing to the melee to take their seats as the main meal was about to be served. Thanks to Greg Chugg for reminding us of that tradition.

The two lunch wines on offer were a 2014 Glandore Estate Ward Shiraz Cabernet, compliments of David, plus a 16-year-old 2005 Rosemount Mudgee Shiraz Cabernet, which had been passed off many years ago to the purchasers of this wine as one of the Society’s favourites; a Mountain Blue.  As the dearly deposed Orange man would have decried; fake news!!!  It is anyone’s guess as to whether it was a Mountain Blue, (the label was completely different), but it still held up well after all of these years and is probably one of the wines from the Cellar that we should serve more often, as it’s life and fullness is probably limited.

Both wines were exceptionally good at complementing the spice in the food, rather than detracting from it.

David cooked one of his old favourites, that he has regaled the Society with on previous occasions; his pork belly with watermelon salad.  It was delicious, with a touch of heat, and the Glandore with a more prominent cabernet feel was a great blend with the meal.

The meal was a complex mix of the pork belly, honey, soy, allspice and ginger, mixed into the salad consisting of coriander, shallots, jalapenos, ginger, white wine and of course the watermelon plus a very interesting trick of using the white rind of the watermelon for crunch. The only criticism of the meal, which was addressed by David, was the rind on the pork could have had more cooking time as it was chewy rather than crunchy.

Then it was time for the cheese, accompanied with a fruit and nut mix.

Really Dr James, being a cardiologist, you should know better! That d’Affinoise Blue cheese that was served today was a real heart starter, or possibly a heart-stopper.  Personally, it is my favourite cheese and I say ten hail Marys after each serve.  Just a pity there weren’t more servings leftover, as I surely would have acquired one… very well done and selected.

The two wines accompanying the cheese were a bit of a surprise as one of the wines was a white, a 2011 Lindemans Hunter Valley Semillon, Reserve Bin 1350, which was quite different to the 2013 served earlier with the canapes.  The other cheese wine was a delicious 2009 Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon; The Cigar, a very big, bold cab sav, that I have enjoyed on many occasions and went perfectly with the cheese.

The coffee was the Society blend, with just the right amount of gravel in the blend as a great palate cleanser.

All of this was topped off with a Rutherglen Muscat, provide by Matt Holmes, who was celebrating his birthday.

It was a great lunch, and it was finished off with Phil Laffer telling a few of us some of the stories from his earlier days in some of the various wineries he has worked in and the characters that he knew.

This leads me on to a project that I am undertaking; to create a video of some of the members.  It will entail videoing them and over the next week, it would be very helpful for any of the members to make suggestions on questions to ask.

After today’s post-lunch conversation with Phil, it became apparent that a much better way to conduct these interviews will be having a round table of 2-3 other members, so it is more interactive.  I would equate it to some of the football shows, where there are 2-3 hosts speaking with the guest, so you have a greater depth of questioning than having only one person.

The members that I would initially like to interview would be

Wal Edwards

Peter Manners

Ray Kidd

Ray Healy

Brian Sproule

John Rourke

John Hall

Michael Cassimaty

And please send me suggestions on other members you would like interviewed and the questions that you would like to be asked. 

In addition, if any of the Society members would like to be part of the panel interviewing these nominated members, please let me know as I know that it would be extremely interesting.  I am considering up to four other members being on this panel for each member being interviewed.  We would have different members on the panel for each interview. 

I will be setting up a YouTube account for the Society.  These videos would then be placed on YouTube and the URL (the highlighted letters you click that takes you to another place or page) would be placed on the Society Website for all members to click to view.

I see this as a very important documentation of our living history of the Society and will keep you posted with this project over the coming months.

Looking forward to next weeks’ Bordeaux tasting!  Remember as a Society member, it is your wine and you will not get too many chances elsewhere to sample these amazing wines.