19 April 2022 CoTD Denis Redfern

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Lunch review by James Hill

The room was packed today as we welcomed back to the kitchen Team Redfern cooking our first mixed lunch of the year. It was great to see the support of our members attending this lunch and we welcomed members of the Sydney Ladies Wine and Food Society.

Canapes

We began with an abundance of canapés prepared by Jennifer Darin and assisted by Trish Redfern.

Sashimi yellowfin tuna from the fish market this morning was served on spoons with soy and wasabi sauce underneath. Fresh and flavoursome, a good balance with the sauce not overpowered by the soy wasabi.

Next came a deconstructed prawn cocktail served with a Marie Rose sauce that had a spicy finish on the aftertaste. Again fresh from the market today with flavour and texture.

Something not seen at our Society as a canapé …palm hearts that had been marinated in a vinaigrette of balsamic, EVOO, dry mustard, garlic salt and pepper with some dill and parsley.

Lastly some very tasty liverwurst and homemade sauerkraut in pastry cases.

All four canapés were appealing and satisfying, members delighting in variety and quantity.

Our aperitif wine was the At Roca ‘Reserva’ Brut Cava 2018.

Main

Who doesn’t like a good roast...comfort food at its best and that what’s Denis served to us today.

Roast chicken Maryland, brined 2% for 24 hours, cooked sous vide for 3 hours at 75C, then finished in the oven to crisp the skin.

This was accompanied by perfectly crisped duck fat roast potatoes on soubise sauce.

Very tasty tarragon, thyme, parsley and lemon zest herb ball with homemade sourdough breadcrumbs apple, onion, melted butter and egg.

Broccolini with slivered almonds and lemon juice served with a rich jus of porcini mushrooms and a sofrito of celery, onion and carrot sautéed in schmaltz then mixed with chicken gelatine, chicken stock, Bristol Cream sherry and thickened with a beurre manié

Many favourable comments from the room as to the quality, flavour and textures of lunch today.

The main course wines were:

2018 Guigal Cote du Rhône blanc

2015 Montalto Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir

Cheese

Denis loves Espoisse and he requested it today and was obliged by our cheese master James Healey with a perfect example. It is a washed rind cow’s mike cheese from France and it’s famous for its strong smell and sticky golden rind which is washed with Marc de Bourgogne.

When mature it has a characteristic stinky smell, smooth melting texture and rich flavour, all of which we saw today.

Accompanying the cheese were some green and ‘moon’ grapes.

The cheese was matched with:

2015 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir

2011 Château La Rame Sainte Croix-du-Montis..

2007 Elderton Riverina Botrytis Sémillon

 

12 April 2022 CoTD Rob Doll

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Food and wine review by Stephen O'Halloran who will be a new regular reviewer

Food

Resident Chef Rob Doll did his usual excellent work with today’s lunch.  For starters, we had some chicken liver pate Brioche toast. Delicious. Next to follow were Serrano Ham croquettes, wonderful.  My choice on any menu.  Finally, there was a liquid butternut gnocchi, which must have been very nice as it had vanished before I could get within range! 

 The main was Rob’s rendition of Lancashire Lamb Hot Pot. Beautifully slow-cooked shoulder with rich flavours topped with thin-sliced potatoes served in small casserole dishes, just heavenly!

 To finish off we had a La Dame goat's milk cheese.  I am normally a great fan of all the cheese we are lucky enough to enjoy at the Society lunches, but not this one.  Neither a hard nor a soft cheese, it was a bit lost. Texture and flavour I found to be a little on the soapy side.  But I am aware that others in the room liked it.  You pay your money; you take your chances!

Wine

At the conclusion of the AGM, pre-lunch wines were served. The Cellarmaster produced a wine that was a surprise to us all. A 2008 Gouais from Chambers Vineyard in Rutherglen.  Some research indicated it was from Ancient Europe, not well regarded and thought of as a peasant’s wine, notwithstanding that it is considered as possibly being the father of Chardonnay and Riesling grapes. We did the wine no favours by keeping it for so long, the wine being well past its prime.  Chambers say they make only a small amount, which I think is a good thing for wine lovers generally.  I hope this is the last time we see this wine.

The next two wines were Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley.  A 2012 St Huberts and a 2016 Tarrawarra Estate.  I am normally a fan of wines from St Huberts, but not this one. Too long in the Cellar, allowing the fruit and acid to fall away. A pity, still drinkable but would have been far better 4/5 years ago. The Tarrawarra was a fine PN, but in my view served far too cold. Slightly chilled PN is quite ok, but this one was over chilled, masking some of its very appealing fruit.

The first bracket of the lunch wines were two Cabernets, one from Bordeaux and the other a local from Coonawarra.  Both were excellent. The French wine was Chateau Lanessan from 2009, a very reliable producer, and the local wine was the ever-popular St Hugo from 2004. I enjoyed both. The French wine was balanced, elegant and restrained. The St Hugo would have nothing of that, a real flavour bomb.  At first look, I was thinking that it might be a little tired at 18 yo and with 14.5% alcohol, a stewed fruit finish.  But no, tons of flavour with a clean aftertaste.    The room had as expected varying opinions, mainly in favour of the French, but I personally was in the end attracted to the St Hugo.  Both wines were good examples of the distinction in style between the French and the local Cabernets of good quality.  A matter of personal preference.

The second bracket at our table consisted of two Shiraz, Best’s 2012 Bin 1 and a Guigal Cote Rotie 2007.  I could not fault either.  Good fruit balanced and clean finish.   The Best’s had I think the edge in flavour, but there was not much in it.  All four wines went well with the main course and cheese.

I am informed that some tables had different wines in the last bracket to what our table had, however as I did not see these wines I cannot comment.

All in all, an enjoyable afternoon to wrap up the AGM for 2022. 

5 April 2022 CoTD Merv Peacock

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29 March 2022 CoTD Greg Sproule

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22 March 2022 CoTD James Hill

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Food comments: Nick Reynolds. Wine comments: Phil Laffer

Tuesday marked the fourth Chef of the Year Cook-Off, this time with James Hill taking us on a foodie tour of Greece.

James was ably assisted by James Tinslay, who did a riff on his extremely popular sausage rolls and our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, who provided home-made white Taramasalata for the main course.

James served two appetisers. The first was tuna blended with mascarpone, capers, dill, chives and lemon zest presented on a witlof leaf which gave a bitter, crunchy counterpoint to the dip. The second was hummus bi tahini, served simply in a plain tart shell. James commented that he made this with Australian organic chickpeas, which are globally highly regarded.

As a self-proclaimed foundation member of the Sausage Roll and Wine Society of NSW (SR&WS of NSW), James Tinslay adapted his popular sausage rolls to fit in with the Greek theme. Lamb-based, they were augmented by Spinach, Feta, Onion, Red Capsicum, Greek herbs and garlic, lemon juice and zest and that old Greek standby, Panko breadcrumbs. Served with a Tomato Chutney augmented with Kashmiri Chili (apparently from an extra island in the Dodecanese). The rolls were both delicious and filling. Several members ate large numbers of these, thinking that they were the main course. The appetisers were served with 2014 Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon which was an elegant wine with intense fruit that was drinking well at this age.

The main was a reprise of the visually stunning and much-praised Eggplant and Scallop dish that James cooked last year. The dish is a variant on a seafood moussaka originally created by Peter Conistis, Sydney’s Father of modern Greek Food. A fried eggplant slice was lavishly covered with White Taramasalata, topped with three perfectly cooked Canadian scallops, followed by strips of roasted red capsicum, another slice of eggplant, and finally topped with a rich tomato salsa. The presentation was enhanced by generous servings of salmon roe and avruga caviar. A feast for the eyes, the flavour combination was exceptional. Some felt that the eggplant skin was a touch tough compared to when James has cooked the dish before. Chilly Hargrave had an each-way bet by matching both a white and a red wine with the dish. The white, which many felt was the ideal match with the food, was a 2015 Curly Flat Macedon Range Chardonnay. A more traditional Australian Chardonnay, it was well oaked with well balanced peach-melon fruit. The weight of the wine matched that of the food extremely well. The red was a 2014 Christian Clerget Bourgogne Rouge which was both elegant and attractive with good cherry fruit and soft tannins. Many considered this to be the wine of the day.

Our Cheesemaster James Healey presented a Le Marquis Brie made from milk from a small herd of pampered Fresian cows. Made in a modern, purpose-built Fermier in the Ile de France the cheese came to the table in excellent condition accompanied by sliced William Bartlett pears and Italian whole-wheat crackers. Two 2012 Barossa Shiraz wines were served with the cheese. The pick of the two Shiraz was a Saltram Mamre Brook which was a big sweet, fruity wine with plum, black pepper, and good length. The second was a Gibson Dirtman, which conversely was somewhat tired, dry and astringent. Phil Laffer commented that Matt Holmes, who was distributing the wines on the day, served the reds direct from the wine fridge at 15C, which was a perfect temperature for these big wines from the Barossa.

The lunch was also an opportunity to welcome three new members: George Peters, Brian Dunn, and Paul Touma. They certainly picked a great lunch with which to start their Wine and Food Society journey.

15 March 2022 Nick Reynolds

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Food review by Robert Wiggins

Please Sir, there is something fishy about my sausage!

Hmm, when reading about what the upcoming meal was going to be, orchestrated by Nick, having not had one of his seafood sausages before I have to admit that I was somewhat dubious, not really having a great love for the usual mystery bags.

However, as it was Nick and in the past, his cooking has always been excellent, plus ably assisted by Steve Sparkes, who was I not to try something new?

This meal was one of the biggest surprises that I have had in the Society.  It was definitely a case after the meal was tasted and consumed with the vigour that it went to “Please Sir can I have some more!”

Not trying to influence any outcomes, but personally, I hope that Nick wins the chef of the year in this round of cook-offs, as he will then need to recreate this meal and all of us (those who book early), will get to have it again.

This just demonstrates that the quality and diversity of what our members are now serving up to us is of restaurant quality, if not much better.

It is also now an interesting quandary that we find ourselves in.  Irrespective of the official numbers on inflation, most of us know that there has actually been massive inflation on the goods and services that most of the members utilise and consume.  (This is because the official figures are heavily weighted towards goods and services consumed by younger demographics… new cars, fitting out a home etc).  Therefore, as the average costs of ingredients rise for these superb lunches now being produced by our members, we may shortly need to choose between either having the same quality of food at an increased luncheon cost or degrade the quality of what we are serving.

Back to the seafood extravaganza.

Canapes

The buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon, horseradish cream, cheese and chives were the first creation served.  Unfortunately, Nick had accurately counted how many entrees would go around in each swirl of the floor.  There were many disappointed looks when the second round of these blinis made their way around to each of us without any leftovers.

Steve Sparkes produced his tart with smoked trout pate and pineapple salsa. The pineapple added an extremely interesting flavour, more like a lime mint.  It was exceptionally refreshing and a true palate cleanser.

The wines will be completed by another author, however;

The Entrée wine was a 2015 Tapanappa Eden Valley Riesling.  It went well with the seafood entrees.

Wine For the mains, given the seafood theme, we also had a couple of whites;

The 2018 Pierre-Yves Colin Bourgogne Aligote and the 2017 Collector Tumbarumba Tiger Tiger Chardonnay.  There was much debate on which went better with the food and it seemed to vary as the meal went on.

Main:

Now, this was a surprise when it came to the plate with a fully erect, firm, Mooloolaba jumbo prawn teasing and tempting the diner. Resting under it was a homemade fish sausage, made from hand diced salmon and ocean trout, smoked trout, egg white, cream, and pork back fat.  Served on tarragon beurre Blanc sauce.  In addition, was a mango salsa, Canadian scallop, butter glazed snow peas, and deep-fried forty-layer potato pavé with creme fraiche and Beluga caviar. Now that is an artisan’s work.

It was absolutely delicious and my money is on this dish to take away that crazy crustation trophy.  If Nick does win this, it means he will have to replicate this meal and if this does occur and you missed this one, you would be disappointed to miss his repeat performance.

Cheese Wines

The cheese wines were both 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Syrahs; one from Alain Graillot and the other from his son Maxime Graillot, whose wines come from a single vineyard near the village of Beaumont-Monteux, only a couple of kilometres from his father's vines (Alain)

To go with the French wines, it required a French Compte

Now, this was a great cheese served with baby salad leaves and nashi pear.

Cheese Characteristics

Comte is made from unpasteurised milk, its quality and flavour characteristics vary between producers, and most examples are sold simply on the basis of age. This is no guarantee of quality. Every batch is different and influenced by when the cheese was made, and where and how it was ripened. This cheese was matured in the damp underground cellars of Marcel Petite at Fort Saint Antoine high in the mountains that border France and Switzerland in the Franche – Comte. It’s specially selected to wear the prestigious red ‘crown’ of quality on the basis of its rich concentrated nutty texture, elegant caramel sweetness, and a lingering kaleidoscope of flavours rather than on how long it was aged

This was around 16-18 months old.

Peter Kelso was having another birthday and he was kind enough to bring along a couple of bottles of the Cockburn’s Quinta Dos Canais Port, which went down very well with the cheese.

The coffee was the house blend and next week we look forward to what the ever-reliable, wearer of many hats, James Hill will serve up to us.

8 March 2022 CoTD Steve Sparkes

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Food review by  Robert Wiggins

Happy Days Revisited BY Steve Sparkes

As per directions for this cook-off, the meal served was a close replica of the lunch served in early November of 2021.

This report does not discuss the wines; one of the Masters will fulfil this task.

The underlying theme of the meal was ’Australiana’ aimed at highlighting just how lucky we are to live in this country through some ‘old-fashioned’ dishes presented in a more modern style.

Steve Sparkles was again weaving his magic in the kitchen cooking up a nostalgic culinary storm, straight out of the 1970s

Also, the weather played its part on the day, being cold, wet and miserable… just the ticket for some hot comfort food.

Who wouldn’t want to partake in the ubiquitous sausage roll, meat pie or prawn cocktail, with a bit of Sam Kekovich the Australian 'Lambassador' being channelled by Steve with his lamb beautifully served on the plate.

You could almost smell a bit of Teen Spirit in the room when the nostalgia kicked in when the entrees made their rounds. It temporarily took us back to our youthful days, but thankfully it didn’t last for very long (Teen Spirit smelt like a stolen dab of your father's Old Spice and the dregs of a can of Lynx deodorant you'd got last Christmas from your granny. It smelt like flat Bulmers, swigged from a flagon down the local park on a Friday night, along with the stale reek of Benson & Hedges.) For those of you who can’t remember this, it’s probably the dementia kicking, so just relax and don’t worry.

It was certainly a trip down memory lane, with the main complaint being that there was too much food!!!  Judging by the girth and mirth of many of the members this was certainly a bit of a one-off grizzle.  However, it did raise a very good point and one that needs to be discussed and addressed.

The reason for the excess food was the large number of members who had booked and then did not turn up or cancelled at the last minute.  There was a whole saddle of lamb left over, plus a kilo of cheese, an excess of pies and sausage rolls as these had all been budgeted for by the chef.  This occurs occasionally and begs the question for Society members; should late cancellations receive a refund?  In many walks of life, the answer would be a straight no.  Today’s lunch resulted in a much higher average cost per person, which of course then affects the finances of the entire Society. There is no perfect answer, but this should be raised, addressed and debated upon by the members, probably over a few drinks at lunch.

The Society has moved from a time where members would just roll up on the day, with the chefs having no idea how many people they were catering for resulting in either a feast or famine on the day, quite often with disappointing results.  However, in those days past, the focus on what was served was certainly nowhere near the standard of today.  Some members have recanted meals that included; wombats, roadkill, not sure if the old brush turkey or goanna were served, but it wouldn’t surprise. The entrées were quite often a bit of cheese on a Jatz cracker.  Thankfully those days are long behind us.

The Society has been continually moving along with the times and at various junctures in time it is important to reflect on where we came from and where we are moving to.  This is yet another one of the decisions that we need to make going forward.

Canapes:

The three canapes presented were rapidly consumed:  These were:

A prawn cocktail on a biscuit.

Simply a rice cracker was topped with avocado mousse, gem lettuce, tiger prawn and a homemade Rose Marie sauce.  Easy to eat, lots of work to make it.

The good old sausage rolls

Based on a Bourke Street Bakery recipe using pork mince, dried fennel, finely diced veg, a few spices, it was served with spicy homemade tomato chutney.  This one had a bit of heat in it, which took some members by surprise as it was piping hot when served and a hot surprise on the way down

Another great innovation today was having the server also dish out the sauce for the rolls by a spoon.. so much more effective, faster, without the usual mess or double-dipping.  Again.. see how far we have come!

Then what is a party without the Party Pies?

These consisted of using shortcrust pastry shells with a filling of diced beef chuck and beef mince in a curry sauce topped with puff pastry. Served with a homemade tomato sauce.

There was certainly more than enough to go around

They were served with a perfect compliment of a fresh 2014 Brokenwood Semillon from the Hunter.

It also seemed to be the day for pink shirts.. so it really was a throwback, with Terry, John and Chilly all resplendent in their night fever attire.

For the main course;

The mains consisted of a saddle of Sutton Forest lamb. The saddle is the absolute prime cut of lamb consisting of both fillets, both backstraps with the bones removed but with the fat and skin intact.

Each piece (approx. 1.3kg) was flattened out, painted with some Dijon mustard and then a ‘rub’ of bush tomato, wattle seed, lemon myrtle and dried rosemary was added and the piece rolled tightly and tied and left to dry for about 24 hours in the fridge.

Garnishes consisted of a potato fondant, creamed corn and pickled mushrooms with an intense gravy.

The lamb was rubbed with salt and olive oil and baked in a hot oven and then rested until medium-rare.

It was very interesting with the jus and the saltiness of the sauce.  Steve did not add any salt to the mixture, however, the intense reductions, resulted in a reasonably salty flavour. It was a good lesson in tasting the food before automatically adding salt.

Now given that it was a lamb dish, the lunch wine needed to be a cab sav.

These were a 2012 Mildara from Coonawarra and a 2009 Blue Pyrenees

The Cheese wines were a 2012 Bests Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz and a 2012 Bishops Shiraz.

A real treat for those who like their big wines.

For those wanting more Lambtations;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck8CO6zGFB0

The lamb was sourced from:

https://suttonforestmeatandwine.com.au/

(Many people have asked!!)

The coffee was the house special and the cheese a real delight; thanks James;

The cheese following on theme was of course a sheep's milk Yarrawa semi-hard, from the Southern Highlands Pecora Dairy at Robertson in 2kg wheels.

Yarrawa’s flavour reflects the local soil, pasture and season with micro-flora encouraged to grow within the cheese and upon its natural rind.

More information and Product Description of the Yarrawa;

Michael and Cressida Cains founded Pecora Dairy in 2011 on 200 acres in Robertson, located in the green heart of the Southern Highlands, 100 miles south of Sydney. Their overarching philosophy is one of gentleness: towards the land, their sheep and in the production of their award-winning cheeses.

Robertson lies 743m above sea level and as such enjoys generous rainfall most months of the year, producing lush pasture for their East Friesian sheep. July brings the arrival of lambs who stay close to their mothers for warmth and milk. When they begin to graze in early Spring, no longer in need of their mother’s milk, seasonal cheese production gradually increases.

Yarrawa is Australia’s first raw milk cheese. The absence of heat application during the cheese-making process ensures the bright, natural flavours of the milk are allowed to shine through.  A special blend of cultures is added to the milk and the resulting curds are carefully hooped. The freshly formed wheels are placed in a traditional French cheese press to remove excess moisture over 6 hours.

After hand-salting, the cheese is placed onto Silver Top Mountain Ash timbers, milled on the farm, for maturation. Microflora is encouraged to grow within the cheese and on its natural rind over a minimum of three months in specially designed maturation rooms that are continually replenished with fresh mountain air. When ready, each wheel has the Yarrawa name seared into its rind with a hot branding iron.

Named after the indigenous word for Robertson’s unique cool climate rainforest, Yarrawa has a supple paste with hints of butter, cashews, caramel and grass and excels alongside Riojas and Tempranillo wines and when served with quince paste or cherry jam.

Pecora Dairy’s Yarrawa is Australia’s first non-cooked raw milk cheese, available seasonally.
After lunch, many members remained in the club, with a great spirit of comradery.

We look forward to Nick’s seafood creation next week… it is sure to be both interesting and tasty.

 

1 March 2022 CoTD Keith Steele

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Food review by James Hill (with an addition re his birthday Armagnac)

It was a welcome return to the kitchen today for Keith Steele ably assisted by James Tinslay and Paul Ferman on canapés.

Still dark, wet and damp it didn’t deter our faithful members with maximum bookings and the mood at lunch was light with members' comments verging on stand up comedy.

Canapés

Canapés were plentiful today and the quantity was favourably welcomed by members when commenting about the lunch.

First up Keith sent out curried egg on pappadum. The weather softened the papadums somewhat however this meant it was easier to eat rather than crumbling. Very tasty.

Paul was up next with two canapés served on gluten-free bread with some horseradish cream while the bread was a vehicle for the canapés it was a little too thick making it chewy and we lost a bit of the unique flavour of the topping.

The topping was made by the famous Fish Butchery “pepperberry cured Ora King salmon” (Ora is the NZ salmon) and Spencer Gulf Kingfish mortadella.

Both had great flavour with the mortadella made in the traditional way with olives and the unusual addition of milt (Google it).

James Tinslay sent out his signature dish, sausage rolls, this time a variation today with a Moroccan theme. The meat was home ground beef mince 70% and 30% chicken mince.

The combined mince included panko, garlic, ginger, onion, carrot, pine nuts, cinnamon, paprika and coriander. The usual suspects.

They were topped with seeds: black mustard, sesame and cumin. Again very popular with our members. James's homemade sauce went perfectly with the rolls. A rather expensive sauce James left it at home and he had to organise a special delivery.

Main Course

Keith reprised a dish he’d last cooked at Lower Fort street “Syrian Chicken”. Lots of flavours made with ginger, onions, garlic, saffron and tomatoes plus some black currants to add a little sweetness with some residual heat from the chilli. It was served on a bed of couscous with some snow peas.

A good hearty meal with texture, good flavours from the balanced spice mix. Keith cooked the dish with a skinless thigh and comments thought using ‘skin on’ may have added a little more moisture.

Cheese

Keith is always willing to guess the cheese and the percentages are in his favour. Today he requested a blue cheese but unfortunately, his choice was not available however we enjoyed the substitute.

It was a Saint Agur an artisan blue cow’s milk cheese from Valey France.

Made from cow's milk with added cream, this modern cheese was developed from an old monastery recipe as a creamy cow's milk alternative to Roquefort. The flavour of this popular cheese has been developed using a special selection of ‘designer’ blue moulds which are cultured on rye bread and crammed into the curds just before hooping. After three months of maturation, the cheese develops a rich creamy texture and distinctive blue flavour.

It was served with walnuts and dried apricots.

We finished the afternoon with a 1989 Bas Armagnac courtesy of James Hill for his birthday.

22 February 2022 CoTD Rob Doll

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Food review by Steve Liebeskind

Today was a wine tasting lunch and while the wines were the focus of the day, the Chef of the Royal Exchange excelled with food worthy of the quality of wines presented.

Canapes

Stracciatella and heirloom tomato tart 

Stracciatella is an Italian cheese curd (cow) made from pulled mozzarella curds mixed with heavy cream. This cheese was served in a puff pastry tart and topped with chopped heirloom tomato. To finish a deep-fried curry leaf topped the tart for colour, flavour and decoration. This canape was delicious and for so many reasons.

Duck fat potato, veal tartare and caviar

Who doesn’t like potatoes cooked with duck fat??? Potatoes were finely cut via a mandolin, layered in a tray with duck fat. Then baked and put into the fridge with a weight on top. The potatoes were cut into cubes and finished by going into the deep fry. Beef tartare was made by the tail from the fillet used in the main. To finish black caviar was placed on top.

Picture perfect one mouthful canape with great flavour from all three ingredients. The presentation and flavour were terrific, although I thought the caviar gave the canape a slightly fish flavour focus.


Parmesan gougères 

This was a savoury cheese puff made from choux pastry. The cheese filling was a parmesan custard (made from parmesan cream and egg yolks gently cooked via a Theromix and when cooled injected into the puffs. This was a light satisfying savoury puff that was easily consumed by all.
 
Main

Beef Wellington, smoked potato mash and cabbage with red wine sauce 

What looks simple on the plate is rarely created with the same simplicity. The Wellington looked perfect and evenly cooked for all serves on the table. The beef colour was great, and the pastry was wonderful. The flavour came from the ingredients in the making of the dish. Accompanying the protein was a beautiful smoked potato mash and a lightly cooked shredded cabbage with a subtle hint of caraway seeds. The meal was topped off with a very smart and classic reduced red wine and port jus.

Beef Wellington – eye beef fillet was seared, tied, refrigerated, and before going on the pastry English mustard was spread over the meat. Crepes were made using various herbs and some mushrooms were placed on puff pastry. The beef was added, rolled and placed in the oven for 20 minutes or so. The variation from traditional Beef Wellingtons was that pate and cooked mushrooms were not in this dish – some missed these two ingredients, but it didn’t distract from an enjoyable dish.

The chef smoked cream fraiche, butter and some milk. Then added this to potatoes and turned into a slightly thicker Paris mash. Finished with sea salt the final product was a very flavoursome accompaniment to the Wellington.

Cabbage was shredded and cooked for 4 to 5 minutes in a pan with some butter and caraway seeds for extra flavour. Simple and very effective.

Cheese

Manchego DOP 12 month 3kg (review from supplier, Calendar Cheese Company)

Manchega sheep are native to the arid but fertile La Mancha Plateau in central Spain. For centuries, shepherds have raised these sheep for their milk and maintained a remarkably pure lineage which, amongst other things, has resulted in milk quality that has changed little in hundreds of years.

Perhaps the best-known product from La Mancha is Manchego cheese; the pressed, matured cheese made exclusively from Manchega milk to strict rules governed by the DOP that protects it. The zig-zag pattern on the rind was traditionally imprinted by a hand-woven grass belt, but today is typically the result of a modern basket used to mould the cheese.

Made famous in the 17th-century novel, Don Quixote, and commonly featured in tapas, Manchego DOP is matured from 30 days to 2 years. As it matures, it develops tiny holes or ‘eyes’ throughout the ivory-coloured paste and flavour that ranges from fruity with a milky finish when young, to a grassy flavour and sharp finish when long-aged.

This cheese is selected by Consorcio de los Quesos and is branded under their Merco label. They select it for its dense texture, buttery aroma and full flavour that has hints of toasted nuts and grass. Aged for a minimum of 9 months and arriving to us at 12 months, each wheel retains a supple texture and milky character that is difficult to find in long-aged Manchego.

15 February 2022 CoTD Peter Kelso

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Food review by James Hill

Peter Kelso was in the kitchen today with the first cook-off for our “Chef of the Year” challenge. While numbers were down the quality wasn’t and it was a memorable meal that showed Peter’s ability to produce a lunch that was complex and difficult in execution.

Starters

We started with pinwheels of smoked ocean trout with dill mustard sauce and a dash of cayenne in a roll of compressed light rye bread.

Next served was cucumber and cream soup served cold. Perfect considering the temperature on this hot summer day.

Paul Ferman assisted in the preparation.

Main course

The main came beautifully presented. A Japanese-based meal, sea bream (morwong) which had been glazed with mirin, sake and sugar reduction. It had been briefly seared then oven rested and was served with Japanese dashi and miso broth topped with some shredded spring onion, a sprinkling of crushed toasted nori and a light dusting of togarashi (a Japanese hot pepper mix). Udon noodles were added to the brew before serving. It presented well, was very flavourful and the fish was moist and perfectly cooked.

A great meal and it received very positive comments from members on the day.

Cheese

The cheese presented by Gary Linnane selected by James Healey was a Society favourite, an aged Beaufort, a cows milk cheese from the province of Savoie in the French Alps.

Served with the cheese today we had toasted walnuts, fresh figs and Nashi pears.