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

010621chef010621entree2010621entree1010621main010621main2010621nan010621cheese

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

250521chef250521entree1250521entree3250521entree2250521main250521cheese

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

180521chef180521chef2180521table180521starter1180521starter2180521starter3180521nan180521main180521cheese

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

110521chef110521starter1110521main110521cheese

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

040521chef1040521canape2 v2040521starter xxxx040521main1040521cheese1

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

270421chef270421entree270421main270421cheese2270421kitchen2270421kitchen3270421wine

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

200421chefs 1200421entree1200421entree2200421entree1200421main200421cheese2200421cheese1

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.

13 April 2021 - Rob Doll (REX)

130421chef130421starter1130421starter2130421starter3130421main130421salad130421cheese130421lifemembers

Food review by Robert Wiggins

Today’s lunch was a special day. It was the annual general meeting, but most importantly it was a celebration of one of our august members, John Rourke, being made a Life Member of the Society, an honour that is rarely awarded.  To become a life member is not a matter of putting in the years, but in putting in the hard yards for the Society over the years.  John has been a member for almost 50 years and is certainly one of the forces that have shaped the Society over this time.

As befitting of the importance of the day, so was the chef; Rob Doll, who is the Royal Exchange’s head chef.

As the rules have now changed and members are again able to have their canapes standing up, conversing and socialising together, just like in the days before covid, there was a festive atmosphere in the room.   Rob started the canapes with an old favourite for some with his devilled eggs followed by a salmon mix on a blini and rounded off with a crunchy dry crouton, topped with peas. This finger food was very tasty.

A plentiful amount of accompanying wines were served, which were befitting of an annual general meeting; they were free! And we are trying to clear out the cellar. A brace of primarily Prosecco, KT Riesling and Holm Oak kept the assembled throng entertained until lunch was called.

Rob served a very tender, juicy fillet of kingfish, with an exceptionally crispy skin, partially immersed in a saffron-coloured sea of extremely creamy mash, with some green crisped lime flavoured leaves, to deliver just the right amount of zest to the fish dish.  This was on an interesting bed of finely grated vegetables, that had most guessing to be celeriac, however, it was eventually revealed as cabbage!  Which was a big surprise to many.

The fish was served with a 2012 St Huberts Pinot from the Yarra and an Italian 2016 Rosso Dei Notri.  Interestingly these wines were great accompaniments, to the fish, as they provided an excellent foil for the very creamy and rich potato mix.

A few at our table thought that the blue-veined cheese was European, however, the Cheese Master James again pulled one of his Australian party tricks, with the origin of this mild, creamy, blue cheese, turning out to be Milawa Blue from the Victorian high country. It was inspired by Gorgonzola Dolce. Amazing at how proficient our cheesemakers in Australia are becoming.

This was accompanied by some dark grapes and a leaf salad, with an interesting dressing that some members thought was too sweet, however, it was so tasty that it was completely consumed at our table.

The wine cheeses were a 2008 Wynns V&A (as Chilly educated us, which stands for Victoria and Albert), from Coonawarra and a big, but elegant 2005 Barossa Shiraz; a Teusner Albert.

The lunch was rounded off with the Society’s now standard coffee and after a few stories about John the lunch was closed.

A photoshoot of five of the attending Life Members; John Rourke, Josef Condrau, Terry Stapleton, Greg Chugg and Ted Davis; assembled, all under the amused eye of the painting of Andre.

There were two guests; one an ex-member, who is re-joining and the other is a Beef and Burgundy aficionado, who should join.

As an important note, the Chairman announced that there will be both a Chef of the Year dinner, as well as the President's Dinner, later this year, at a time that does not conflict with Vivid (we all know the chaos that ensued with road closures at a previous dinner).  There are also plans for an excursion to Tasmania next year.  These events will be publicised closer to the dates, to give everyone an opportunity to attend.

6 April 2021 - CoTD Hal Epstein

210406chef210406starter1210406starter2210406starter3new210406main210406cheese

Food and some brief wine memories by James Tinslay and wine review by Richard Gibson

Hal Epstein – 6 April 2021

Hal Epstein was once again in the kitchen but this week he was scheduled in the traditional black spot of the Tuesday after the Easter weekend. He was assisted by our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker.

Starters

We were treated to three starters which all looked and tasted terrific.

First off was a simple dish of very deep coloured tomatoes, sliced lengthways with Hal’s garden-fresh basil leaves and dark anchovy inserted in the cut. Simple and fresh. Next off were wonderfully fresh and tender figs (well done to Harris Farm) wrapped in prosciutto. A classic dish. Lastly, frittata/mini muffins a la Stephanie Alexander with grated zucchini, olive oil, chopped chilli, salt, pepper, mozzarella cheese, flour and eggs. A touch of tomato on the top before cooking. These looked so visually appealing it could have been the ’eat me’ scene from Alice in Wonderland. And they tasted terrific.

Main course

Today’s plan was a Middle Eastern style dish. It’s a style that can apparently polarise our membership palate. Being a fan of this type of food I understand the large array of spices that contribute to making often simple ingredients so flavourful.

The protein part of the meal was lamb backstrap which had been quickly panfried before going into the oven to reach serving doneness. The centrepiece, literally, of the meal, was cauliflower surrounded by the portions of lamb. The cauliflower looked and tasted a treat. The main treatment was the use of harissa which gave it some heat with chilly, paprika, coriander, cumin, cayenne, garlic mixed with olive oil. This paste was painted onto the cauliflower and it was then baked until it reached a medium softness.

The marinade for the lamb was cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, coriander, parsley, oil and lemon juice and the lamb absorbed those flavours for 24 hours.

Not to be outdone by the preceding treatment there was a yoghurt mix to top off the meal with onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, birdseye chillies, tomato paste, olive oil, pepper, salt and orange zest. Whew!

The plating looked brilliant (see the photo) and all of the above was topped with walnuts, pomegranate seeds (it added visually as well as taste) and locally sourced fetta cheese.

Such a well done, appealing and tasty main. It covered all bases.

Cheese

James took us back to a member's favourite cheese, Osso Iraty from the Pyrenees. This ewes milk cheese from the Basque region dates back more than four thousand years. It is made for nine months of the year using the milk of black or red-faced Manech ewes. It contains finely ground Espelette peppers to form a natural barrier to moulds. Our example of this semi-hard cheese was buttery with fruity, herbaceous and nutty overtones. In excellent condition and a pleasure to taste

Wines

The wines featured two rieslings with the starters and four cool-climate Aussie Shiraz with the main and cheese.

Robert Stein Riesling 2019

The Stein Riesling is made from Mudgee sourced fruit, handpicked, whole bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel.   The wine showed aromas of lime and citrus, was lean and linear on the palate with a crisp, racy (acid) dry finish – a very good young Riesling out of the drought-affected 2019 vintage.

Holm Creek – Tamar Riesling 2015

The wine is a blend of 2 separate estate-grown clones, separately fermented. 

The wine had attractive lime and aromatic floral characters (reflecting the different clones). On the palate, it was lively and vibrant (showing some aged characters) with attractive mineralization and a long finish with plenty of acidity.

Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz – 2012

The Chalambar is a multi-regional blend made from Victorian cool climate great western region (Grampian mainly).

On the nose, we saw fragrant blue fruits (mulberry/raspberry) and some pleasant violet characters (typical of the region) with savoury spicy notes.  The palate exhibited a spicy fruit richness, was medium-bodied with well-integrated soft tannins (reflecting the use of old 300 L oak barrels).

Pleasant drinking but not complex Victorian shiraz – popular on the day and went well with Hal’s middle eastern food.  Alc 14%

Bests Shiraz 2012

A classic cool-climate Shiraz from Greta Western vines – in part made from hand-picked fruit and whole berry fermentation (some whole bunch).

The nose displayed aged blackberry and violets with savoury pepper and aniseed notes. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with a generosity of aged fruit flavour (perhaps a little over-extracted). Well-integrated fine tannins and reasonable length.

An attractive drinking wine, focused and elegant.  Alc 14.5%

Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 2009

A stalwart cool climate (entry-level) shiraz produced by Wynns since 1952.

Dense purple in colour, it showed blackberry and spice on the nose with some floral notes.

It was medium-bodied on the palate, displaying a blackberry and plummy richness plus spice and cedar characters; fine, well-integrated, very dry tannins with decent length.

An attractive drinking, balanced wine.

There was considerable bottle variation around the room – the better examples showing more complexity and length.  Alc 13.5%

Cherubino Franklin River Shiraz 2009

Made by well-credentialled winemaker Larry Cherubino from vines in the Franklin River region of WA.

The grapes are sourced from multiple estate vineyards and clones - the first release of this wine was in circa 2007.  The grapes are handpicked, individually berry sorted, see 3 weeks maceration and then aged for 9 months (new and old oak).

The nose displayed an intense blue/blackberry richness, spice and pepper and gravelly oak.

The palate was disappointing – high alcohol, over-extracted, dense, rich jammy fruit dominated. The tannins were very firm and not yet in balance – the style was more reminiscent of a big, over-extracted Barossa shiraz. The wine was not popular in the room - hopefully, the winemaker’s later vintages showed some improvement.    Alc 14.9%

30 March 2021 - CoTD Nick Reynolds

300321chef300321starterx300321starter3300321startery300321cheese2\300321peter manners300321main 1

Food review by James Hill and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Food

Our President Nick Reynolds was in the kitchen for our monthly wine tasting.

The theme ‘all-white wine’ would be a challenge for most chefs however Nick took the challenge and produced a great meal for us today.

Wines tasted today were a vertical tasting Tyrrell’s Vat 1 from 2018 to 1998.

Members commented on how fortunate we were to be able to hold a tasting of this quality, indeed probably unique to Australia.

Entrees

To match a brace of Pinot aperitif wine Paul Thorne was up first with his signature consommé of duck with orange zest.

The consommé had great flavour, concentration and mouthfeel. Perfect.

Nick followed up with Peking duck pancakes. The duck breast was cooked sous vide in its juices with hoisin, shaoxing wine, five spice powder, ginger and garlic powder. He then seared them on the hot plate. It was pink, moist and full of flavour. Nick sourced some thin pancakes from a local Asian deli as well as an umami bomb of Peking duck sauce and served the duck with cucumber and shallot. It was as good as you’d get at your favourite Chinese. Members were looking for more!

A great lead in to our main course.

Main course.

There was a lot of preparation evident on today’s meal.

Nick had made seafood sausages with salmon, smoked trout, pork back fat, cream, chives, and egg white.

They were rich, moist and flavoursome with good texture and came to the table at the right heat.

Nick served these with a warm potato salad of pickles, red onion and mayonnaise. Nestled nearby was some caramelised onion and a simply-dressed mixed lettuce salad.

It was a great combination and went perfectly with the wines today and many comments on the quality and taste of the meal. Calls were made for inclusion as a Chef of the Year contender this year.

Cheese

Our Cheesemaster James Healey presented ‘Le Marquis Brie’ for our cheese course today. Origin Ile de France (a region in north-central France surrounding Paris.)

A farmhouse white mould, made with cow’s milk.

In France, it is increasingly hard to find farmhouse cheeses made with milk from a single farm. Most examples are produced in very small quantities from raw milk and these are rarely found outside the area of production. This soft surface mould-ripened cheese, specially selected by Will Studd is a wonderful exception. It is handmade in a modern purpose-built ‘fermier’ that lives in the shade of the Rambouillet deer forest south-west of Paris. Le Marquis is made with fresh pasteurised milk sourced exclusively from a small herd of pampered Friesian cows. The unique combination of moulds, cultures and traditional popular wood box helps ensure the chalky centre of the young cheese slowly breaks down to a soft gooey texture over 3 to 4 weeks of careful ripening. One can tell when Le Marquis Brie is at its optimum because it has a distinctive fungal aroma and is soft when pressed. The cowy barnyard flavours of the mature cheese are a perfect reminder of why ‘fermier’cheese is so special.

With the cheese, Nick served figs drizzled with a special balsamic vinegar that he purchased in Modena.

It was Peter Mannners’ birthday. A lot of us can hope to be cooking for our Society at 97 years of age, Peter provided a Cockburn’s tawny port to go with our coffee and we finished lunch with a rousing rendition the birthday song and a smile.

Wine

Today’s wine lunch was an All White affair with a selection of vintages of the iconic Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon.

Consequently, the aperitif wines were a pair of Pinot Noirs to avoid the Society’s well-known symptoms of tannin withdrawal. A 2013 Seville Estate Pinot Noir was certainly on the money with tannin. Still showing varietal fruit aromas it was losing a little flavour of the palate with a dry finish. Continuing the theme we had a 2010 Tyrrell’s Vat 6 Pinot Noir. After 11 years, the wine had softened significantly with fine tannins and a pleasing texture.

Once we sat down we started on the prepoured Tyrrell’s Semillons. The first was a young 2018 (12.0% alcohol). Still very primary with obvious SO2 aromas. Still, with locked in ferment esters it was perhaps a little on the commercial side. Acids were quite soft with the expected lean palate. The 2014 (11.5% alcohol) was a step up in quality and the preferred wine for many in the room. The aromas were starting to show development although there was still a whiff of sulphur dioxide. A great fruit profile was balanced with structure and acidity. A wine with wonderful purity and length.

To finish the wines from the decade we tasted from the 2012 (10.5% alcohol) vintage. With an alcohol and acidity that we have traditionally seem from the Hunter, it showed some dusty, mulberry, green notes with a lean palate. The 2007 (12.0% alcohol) which followed, was a return to the bigger style. Very much in the toasty, aged Hunter style, it was still bright in the mouth with a fruit richness complemented by a slightly phenolic finish.

The final two wines were starting to show their age. Although the 2004 (10.2% alcohol) was under screw cap it was showing honeyed notes and a suspicion of oak. The flavours had diminished which left an acid finish. The 1998 (10.4% alcohol) was under cork and there was a slight variation between bottles. The best showed aged buttered toast notes and some aldehyde. The palate, however, was still bright with excellent structure and a fine fruit/acid balance.

A truly fantastic experience showcasing Tyrrell’s, Semillon, the Hunter and a spread of 23 vintages. A unique tasting that should have drawn a full house.