23 August 2016

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Our Foodmaster Nick Reynolds stepped into the chef of the day role at short notice after our scheduled cook Peter Manners had an accident on the City to Surf. We wish him well and he will be back later in the year for his German inspired lunch. Nick was assisted by James Hill.

Canapés. Nick presented a rich chicken liver pate on Iggy’s ficelle bread sticks cut thinly. Juniper berries and brandy added so much flavour to this tasty canapé.

Aperitif wine. We started our wine journey with a Warramate Riesling 2011 (screwcap, 11.5%, Yarra). Some slight residual sugar but offset by plenty of acid. Very clean and good at its role as a cleanser with the liver pate. A bottle or two of The Yard Verve Chardonnay 2009 was also served but it was the lesser match.

Main course.  The main this week from our Foodmaster and sous vide expert, Nick Reynolds, was sliced chicken breast (sous vide of course) on a base of farro (grains of certain wheat species) cooked in chicken stock. The farro was mixed with dried apricots, pomegranate, spinach leaves and crumbled feta. Farro was a new to many and an excellent point of food education.

The chicken had a wonderfully moist and soft centre as would be expected. There were some comments that more flavour by way of sauce content and flavour would have enhanced the dish. The really mouth-watering part was the crunchy baked chicken skin with Moroccan herbs sitting atop the dish.

The wines.

  • Lindemans HV Semillon Bin 8455 1994 (cork, 11.5%)
  • Lindemans Eliza’s Ten Pinot Noir 2010 (screwcap, 13.5%)
  • Guigal Crozes Hermitage 2009 (cork, 13.5%)
  • Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (cork, 13.5%)

The first wine from Paul Ferman was the 1994 Lindies and it looked for all the world in the bottle as a sample if you know what I mean. Corks were tricky to remove but the wine was in a wonderful pristine condition. A very good example of an aged Hunter Semillon. A great joy. The Lindys Pinot was an honest workman like wine (drinkable/comfortable) which went surprisingly well with the chicken.

With the cheese there was two beaut wines but very different. The Guigal house has many fans and the 2009 Syrah was dark coloured wine with great concentration with tannins now softening. The Vasse Felix was still dark in hue with blackcurrant on both nose and palate. Good length and balance and drinking very well. A great example of a fine structured Margaret River style.

Cheese and coffee. The cheese selected by James Healey had mix of personalities. A Dutch cheesemaker making cheese in Ireland. No one picked it. Coolea turned out to be a fromage in the Gouda style made for only six months of the year but matured for up to two years. This cheese had maturity and much enjoyed.

Spencer Ferrier (in absentia) provided his second of three commercial coffee interludes with Vittoria Expresso coffee from 100% Arabica beans. A coffee of substantial weight but somewhat flat and one dimensional. Members have been spoiled by Spencer’s excursions into the high end.

As a member if you do not come to lunch this is what you miss out on.


16 August 2016

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Manning the kitchen this week we had Graham Fear ably assisted by Steve Liebeskind and Paul Panichi with a cornucopia of seafood for our enjoyment.

Canapés. We were treated to three with the team working for hours doing the assembly. Firstly, Spanish anchovies with Swedish cod roe served on crisped croutons brushed with ghee. Then seared Tasmania scallops on black pudding (who doesn’t like black pud!) with tangy wasabi mayo. Finally, West Australian spanner crabs (fresh, unfrozen) with herbs and caviar and a touch of heat from chilli. Three outstanding canapés.

Aperitif wine. A French treat from our Winemaster with Bernard Fouquet Cuvee De Silex Vouvray 2014. This Loire wine was well received and in this case the wine had just a touch of residual sugar but good acid which went well with the seafood. Vouvray can be made bone dry to quite sweet and styles vary from vintages and makers.

Main course.  Graham served us very well presented portions of NZ King Salmon just cooked and moist. It has a high oil content and 8 minutes in the oven had it done. The fish was served on a base of pureed cauliflower flavoured with fresh herbs including parsley and spices. This was accompanied by just cooked vegetables of green and yellow beans and carrot. The pièce de résistance were chat potatoes roasted in duck fat. As with the black pud, who doesn’t like potatoes roasted in duck fat?

The wines.

  • Nick O’Leary Shiraz (Canberra District) 2009 (screwcap, 13.5%)
  • Taylors Shiraz 2002 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2010 (screwcap,13.5%)
  • Chateau La Grolet Cotes de Bourg (right bank Bordeaux) 2009 (cork,13%)

The main course wines were in distinct contrast. The former a cooler climate wine with clean excellent fresh fruit characters. A wine to drink now at 7 years of age or over the next few years. The Taylors 2002 was aged and a little hot and jammy but most loved the style. The former was the best match to the salmon.

With the cheese again there was a real contrast between the Pinot and the predominately Merlot Bordeaux. We know the Coldstream Hills well and it did not disappoint. Elegant at its peak and lovely drinking with red berry and soft tannins. The La Grolet was dry, silky but puckering in the mouth and clearly not of Australian origin. The savoury fruit was an excellent match to the cheese.

A big thank you to member Tony Scott who donated the aperitif wine and the Bordeaux for our lunch.

Cheese and coffee. Goat cheese to the forefront today from James Healey with a French cheese from the Pyrenees. The Caprinelle Tomme de Cherve was semi-hard, pale in colour with a wonderful aroma and creamy palate texture. It was a first for many members.

Spencer Ferrier provided Ethopian Sidamo Guji coffee. It is a bean from coffee trees grown wild and is an heirloom traditional coffee. Chocolate flavours were very evident.

9 August 2016

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Our Vice-President Peter Kelso was at the stove assisted by Martin McMurray for an Italian inspired lunch.

Canapés. Peter and Martin gave us two seafood based starters. Firstly, cherry tomatoes cored and stuffed with crab and mayonnaise and topped with a slice of olive. Then followed excellent white anchovy on crispy toast and topped with capsicum. Both were well received.

Aperitif wine. Our Winemaster served the Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2009 (their entry level wine) from Mornington. Unusually for an Australian white of a recent vintage it was under cork. There was no bottle variation but most thought it was lacking a little character. One bottle of the Lindemans Sparking Shiraz 1999 from Hunter was also opened and was in fine condition being under crown seal.

Main course.  Peter provided us with osso buco Milanese style served with a startling yellow (saffron) risotto. This was accompanied by gremolata as a side in the traditional mode. The sauce did not contain tomato and was not slow cooked in the style of which many of us are familiar. The Milanese style favours much shorter cooking time so that the meat does not fall off the bone but has more texture. It was delicious with some commenting that their pieces were a bit more gristle than meat. Luck of the draw. So, you can cook Italian without tomato.

The wines.

  • Coriole Sangiovese 2009 (Mornington) (screwcap, 14%)
  • Angullong Fossil Hill Sangiovese 2009 (Orange) (screwcap, 14.9%)
  • DenMar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (HV) (screwcap, 13.5%)
  • Blue Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (screwcap, 14%)

It was an all Australian all vintage 2009 day. The Coriole and the Angullong shared a common grape but not much else. There was a divergence of views on which was the more enjoyable wine but most felt the Coriole had more the savoury character of a Tuscan red but still a modest shadow of the original. The Orange wine came across as an Australian wine of indeterminate grape but was favoured by some. Both were solid enough to go with the flavoursome main.

The cheese wines were of a fuller and riper character as befits Cabernets from the Hunter and Pyrenees. The DenMar had a distinctive sweetness and had peaked. The Blue Pyrenees had a better structure and solid in style just avoiding a jammy character.   

Cheese and coffee. For cheese James Healey provided a Mauri Gorgonzola Dolce a pasteurised cows’ milk Lombardy product. The Dolce variation is sweet, milky and creamy with hints of spice. As we have come to expect it was in perfect condition. This compares to the Piccante version of Gorgonzola which some have been known to dislike as it is more aged, piquant and crumblier. A salad accompanied the cheese being radicchio and endive with a vinaigrette dressing.

Spencer Ferrier served us Lavazza and a potted history of Luigi Lavazza who opened his first shop in Turin in 1895. Who knew Lavazza took an espresso machine to the International Space Station in 2015? We had the Crema e Gusto which is a full bodied version.

For the next while Spencer will be alternating between selected beans and commercial blends to provide us with an educational experience.

2 August 2016

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Bill Alexiou-Hucker was assisted on the day by Peter Manners who was a last minute ring-in. It’s good to see our younger members pitching in!

Canapés. Bill and his helpers served us three starters. Firstly a soup which had most of us wildly guessing and not correct in the main. It was a parsnip and apple soup topped with a crispy prosciutto. The crunchy topping set it off wonderfully. Then came medium rare lamb back strap served on crisp bread rounds topped with sesame seeds. They evaporated very quickly from plates. Finally a vegetable frittata, very tasty but a little soft to easily consume. Great starters.

Aperitif wine. Our winemaster served two whites, the Cherubino The Yard Chardonnay 2010 (Pemberton, WA) and Seppelts Jaluka Chardonnay 2013 (Henty, Victoria). Interesting comments with some divergence. The Yard was the lesser of the two with the Jaluka showing an elegant mid path between overly ripe and a more austere style.

Main course.  Bill served a luscious and glutinous beef rib which was described by many as outstanding. It was. The generously sized rib after some fours braising was served on mash which Bill described as having lashings of cream and butter. We loved it. The final component was cabbage prepared with cloves and yellow mustard seed. A great meal.

The wines.

  • Gaia Agiorgitiko 2012 (Nemea, Greece) (cork, 13.5%)
  • Domaine Gerovassiliou Rouge 2009 (Syrah and Merlot, Greece) (cork, 14%)
  • Saltrams Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2002 (cork, 15%)
  • Alkoomi Jarrah Shiraz 1999 (Franklin, WA) (cork, 13.5%)

Paul strategically selected two Greek wines to begin. The Gaia is from the widely grown Agiorgitiko grape and was a real hit. It was a lighter style marked by elegance, length and some savoury characters. The Domaine Gerovassiliou an unusual blend of Syrah and Merlot was the lesser wine with age starting to show. Soft and approachable but in the shadow of the Gaia.

The Saltrams at 14 years old was a fading monster but still going strong. An older fashioned Australian Shiraz at its peak with masses of vanillin oak. Some would have preferred it a few years ago. The other cheese wine, the Alkoomi, had bottle variation and at 17 years of age had also stared to oxidise at least in some examples. Oh, and volatility. Not a success despite its premium pricing when bought in the early 2000s.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey served us a Spanish Manchego from Dehesa de Los Lianos.  This unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese comes with the distinctive “car tyre tread” skin. Well-aged with a rich, sweet and nutty flavour. Wonderful with leftover fino sherry.

Spencer Ferrier in absentia presented a Society favourite with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans. The dosing of our plungers is essential and Spencer was on handy early to get it right. Yirgacheffe is a washed bean and known for its floral notes in the aroma, sometimes with a hint of toasted coconut.

A very good lunch. Thanks Bill.

26 July 2016

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Our Society’s Life Member Ted Davis was the Chef of the Day and was assisted by another very experienced cook in Gareth Evans. The meal and wines were excellent. Ted reminded those present that they were not members of a luncheon club but rather members of a society, the Wine and Food Society of New South Wales and he supported a “surprise” meal each week, not being informed of all details beforehand.

Canapés. We were treated to three starters. In no particular order, Gareth’s homemade focaccia to match his dukka creation. This was followed by sardines pickled with mascarpone and spices on crisp bread rounds. Finally small skewers upon which were mounted buffalo bocconcini balls, roasted dried tomatoes and basil with olive oil. Our 43 members had no trouble disposing of all canapés.

Aperitif wine. To start the Italian wine component of the feast Paul served us Ronco Gelso Sot Lis Rivis Friuli 2014 from Northeast Italy. Friulis are Pinot Grigio (called Pinot Gris in other areas) fruit, this one under cork at 13% alcohol. Aromatic and richer than a usual Friuli possibly from aging in old oak barrels. The fruity style went well with the canapés but some found it too fruity.

Main course. Ted and Gareth put much effort in the some 250 kangaroo tail ravioli served to us. This represented 13 kg of tail. Ted joked one was the animal hit between Orange and Parkes. We think he was joking!

The presentation was beautiful. Soft pasta and meat in a sauce of great depth. The bread was put to good effect mopping up the sauce which included some Pinot Grigio. Ted place a kangaroo tail bone piece on each table as show of authenticity.

The wines – a wine lunch

  • Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Veronese IGT 2011 (“Valpolicella” style) (cork, 13.5%)
  • Fontodi Chianti Classico 2011 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Prunotto Barolo 2008 (cork, 13.5%)
  • Aldo Conterno Lanhge Il Favot Nebbiolo 2008 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino 2006 (cork, 15%)
  • Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 (cork, 13.5%)

For many this was the best selection of wine at a lunch in some considerable time. The Allegrini stood out from the rest with its darker colour. Some raisined character from a small percentage of dried fruit gave it great depth. The Fontodi is an upper end Chianti Classico made from 100% Sangiovese. 2011 was not a top year but surprisingly full bodied and rich enough to cope with the food and the other 2011.

Next we had a pair of 2008s both Nebbiolo based. The Prunotto was a Barolo and very approachable at such a young age. A fine texture, savoury with a long finish. Not overly complex and the rusty tank water colour gave it away before the nose did. The Conterno, a Langhe Nebbiolo was a social class down from the Barolo and may have some Barbera mixed in as was traditional to give it a darker hue. It lacked a bit of structure compared to its higher placed companion.

Finally, the 2006s an exceptional year in Tuscany. Firstly the Gaja Brunello Montalcino which was the top wine of lunch for many. Whilst off young vines it had dark fruit befitting the ranking of the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). The fresh, soft red cherry palate was well balanced by moderate tannins. Wonderful. Antinori make much wine but the Badia is up there with its more expensive and best. It was showing its age a little but the power was still evident with some cherry still evident. It lost out to its wonderful predecessor.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey served an Australian cheese, L’Artisan Mountain Man a washed rind from cow’s milk from Victoria. It had a surprising pungency and was beautifully soft in texture. This was accompained by a simple but tasty radiccho and olive oil salad.

Spencer Ferrier matched our Italian theme with the high end (and expensive) illy brand coffee. Packed in steel canisters pressurised with an inert gas rather than air, the coffee is made from Arabica varieties from a range of countries. The plunger coffee presented with a floral note and was smooth with a definite chocolate finish. A real treat.

19 July 2016

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During this lunch delivered by James Hill we were reminded that his week marks 100 years since the World War I battles of Fromelles and Pozieres, two of the deadliest and most gruesome in Australimilitary history. Saly media gave it little attention despite the estimate that there were some 5,500 Australian casualties on the first day. Our most senior member, Wal Edwards, provided a stirring ode to one of the darkest days of Australia’s history.

Canapés. James and his trusty aides, James Healey and Paul Ferman, treated us to three choices.  All three were served on the fine bread of Iggy’s of Bronte, the star of Sydney’s bread. Firstly, hot smoked trout with a garlic aioli sauce. This was followed by a red pepper (pimento) mousse of a most startling red/pink colour and (with for those lucky enough to be right place) some chorizo. Finally, an olive tapenade with tuna and anchovy. We were fortunate to have such a fine range of choice and ingredients to start this lunch.

Aperitif wine. As an accompaniment to the canapes we enjoyed a Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling 2008. Under screwcap the 8 yo Riesling was in wonderful condition. Little aging was evident by sight and a lively citrus nose was complemented by a spritely acid mouth feel. Years to go.

Main course.  James presented a meal to appeal to the senses with a range of ingredients on the serving plate. The Poulet Basquaise was a presented using a Maryland cut involving piment d’espelette (a chilli variety from Basque), Bayonne ham (baked and laid over the meal, yummy), chorizo, red peppers and much more. It was served with tiny tomatoes, brown rice and rapini, a green cruciferous vegetable pretty well unknown to most of us. A complex dish well delivered.

The main was an outstanding success measured by the frantic sales of leftover portions.

The wines.

  • Chateau Moulin Haut Villars (Fronsac, Bordeaux) 2010 (cork, 14%)
  • Anne Gros/Jean-Paul Tollot LA 50/50 2012 (Languedoc-Roussillon) (cork, 14%)
  • Macquariedale Estate Reserve Shiraz (Hunter) 2006 (cork, 13.5%)
  • Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (cork, 14%)

Surprisingly the first set were not, with food, not a million miles apart. The Fronsac was predominately Merlot but still had the Bordeaux dusty tannins softened with the grape’s attributes. The Languedoc-Roussillon wine was as the name suggest approximately 50/50 Syrah and Carignan. A spicy, textured, grapey wine which one member described as “pretty”. A style of wine that some will find at odds with the traditional wines kept by the Society. A beauty for our meal.

The Macquariedale was somewhat of a throwback in style and one informed member summed it up with “interesting”. Enough said. The Black Label was, well, a Wynns Black Label. True to style a full flavoured Coonawarra Cabernet with much time left. At 10 years of age very likeable.

Cheese and coffee. Dr Healey served us a Le Marquis Chevre du Pelussin goats’ milk fromage from the Rhone Alps. Almost fully aged it had a wonderful runny perimeter with a creamy texture. A fine cheese served with a fennel, artichoke, parsley and lemon salad.

Spencer Ferrier presented a New Guinea Pearl (or peaberry) coffee. Look at last week’s notes to understand peaberry. A medium bodied style and part of our ongoing education.

12 July 2016

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In history 12 July 1962 marks The Rolling Stones first ever live performance at the Marquee Club, London. The day before they came up with the name The Rollin’ Stones lifted from a Muddy Waters song. They played songs by their heroes Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. The rest is history.

On this occasion Martin McMurray on vocals and his lead guitarist Peter Kelso provided a great meal topped off with lamb rack.

Canapés. We were served two. Firstly, served on bread, smoked salmon with crème fraîche and mayonnaise topped with salmon roe of excellent quality. Then followed a curious spicy cheese based biscuit with Martin’s secret ingredient, Rice Bubbles courtesy of Kellogg's. Interesting.

Aperitif wine. As a starter we enjoyed Tyrrells Stevens Vat 4 Semillon. Under screwcap and at 12% there was no bottle variation and was in the mould of a classic HV Semillon albeit not as dry as some.

Main course.  In a nutshell we enjoyed rack of lamb with a caramelised onion glace sauce with sweet potato/pistachio mash and fennel. The lamb, sourced from across the ditch, was perfectly cooked with an even pink colour. From comments, this applied across the room and an achievement given the challenges of the kitchen arrangements.

The wines.

$1·         Bowen Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (cork, 14.5%)

$1·         Huntington Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (screwcap, 13.8%)

$1·         Chateau Musar Jeune 2010 (Lebanon) (cork, 14%)

$1·         Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 2007 (screwcap, 14%)

The first two wines were both a wonderful complement for the sweet lamb. However, there were two clear views. The Bowen was a sweeter Coonawarra style that some preferred but some thought the dusty tannins of the Mudgee wine was the more elegance to suit the lamb and showed less alcohol.

A red and a white were served with the cheese. The Chateau Musar was the second wine of this famous Lebanese producer (established 1930) made from Cinsault (sometimes called Blue Imperial in Australia), Syrah and Cabernet. Some were unfamiliar with the maker and one of the Society’s aims is to educate which is a nice fit in this case. Cinsaut is the fourth most widely planted grape variety in France, and is especially important in Languedoc-Roussillon. Most thought it an easy drinking wine being un-oaked with ripe abundant fruit. Not a touch of the jammy characters we often see.

It’s unusual to have a white wine with our cheese but the nine year old Vat 47 was an inspired match with the cheese. This wine under screwcap was in fine form. Stone fruit and well balanced use of oak indicates some time yet to go.

Cheese and coffee. James presented us a Clarines des Perrin cow’s milk washed rind fromage from Franche Comte region on the Swiss border. New to many of us it had a visually attractive golden rind with a buttery reddish texture. Fully ripe. It was served with grapes and walnuts.

Spencer Ferrier presented Tanzania Peaberry coffee. The beans are half the size of a “normal” bean. Medium bodied, floral with a firm chocolate finish.

Detailed note for those with some time on their hands:

Peaberries (also caracol or caracolillo, “little snail” in Spanish) result when the coffee fruit develops a single oval bean rather than the usual pair of flat-sided beans. A half-hearted, vestigial crevice meanders down one side of the little egg-shaped beans. Botanists observe that peaberries develop when only one of two ovaries in the flower are pollinated or accept pollination, thus producing one seed rather than two – an only child, as it were, in a species in which twins are the norm. Since Arabica coffee is self-pollinating (the same flower can impregnate itself) excessive peaberry production is a sign of general infertility of the plant.


5 July - A Danish Rave

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To start at the end gives a good idea of this special “Danish Rave” inspired lunch. There was a standing ovation for Goldy and Paul Kuiper’s. There were even hats with horns. Enough said.

CanapesFirstly, hand cured gravlax was served on top of pickled cabbage resting on dark Danish multi grained bread that had been prepared for over a week beforehand and also lightly toasted. Moist and full of flavour.

Secondly, pickled herring mousse served on handmade rye bread. Dressed with small slivers of fresh apple.

Thirdly warmed Danish sausage was served on top of two thin slowly fried potatoes crisps with a dab of Dijon mustard in-between and then topped with pickled cucumber.

The attention to detail was stunning.

Aperitif wine. We started with a Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2008. Very mixed opinions. It was no doubt a local Riesling under screwcap but it lacked a little character and interest. However it all went so not all were underwhelmed. As usual some sherry and a bottle or two of Denmar Chardonnay 2010 saw us through to seating.

Main course. A glance at the photograph above says it all. Beautifully roasted pork with even cooked crisp cracking to die for. Served with red cabbage, boiled potatoes, parsley sauce, rhubarb compote and cucumber.   Danish butter was on offer. No dissenters as to the quality and enjoyment.  

Dessert. Yes a treat from Paul who made and presented us with a light Danish pastry topped with honey, fruits and slivers of nuts. It was warmed before serving. The honey was a sugar replacement making you wonder why sugar is needed at all. Again, much loved by all.

The wines.

$1·         Jamsheed Garden Gully Great Western Syrah 2011

$1·         Cos Pithos Sicilia Pathos Rosso 2011

$1·         Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2007

$1·         Rosemount Balmoral Shiraz 2007 (special label)

A range of wines that were across the spectrum of depth and style. The Jamsheed was atypical of Great Western despite being made from vines planted in the 1890s. Medium bodied, spicy and a soft finish. The Cos Pithos from Sicily is made in the ancient method using clay amphoras for storage. A blend but 60% Nero d’Avola. A lighter wine in the European mode. Sour cherries, good balance with length that is well matched with food. There were differing opinions to this.

In between the wine sets Goldy had organised to serve three bottles of Aquavit. "Only" 39% alcohol it was rather good. If you had a doze in the taxi/Uber/bus/train on the way home you know why.

The cheese set were very traditional big Aussie wines. The Mount Langi was the lighter and softer of the two but with rich fruit evident. The Rosemount had everything and the kitchen sink of rich fruit. An older fashioned Australian style loved by many the wine had length and structure if not on the edge of jammy. It is the flagship of Rosemount. Both wines well handled the blue cheese.

Cheese and coffee.Our chefs presented us Danish Blue cheese of course. A tangy older fashioned cheese serve with the wonderful breads, a walnut and a rye. Both handmade for the lunch.

Spencer Ferrier presented a Gold Label Vittoria. Whilst a commercial blend it is at the high end of Arabica beans. A good medium bodied end to a wonderful meal.

The ovation for the chefs was heartfelt.

28 June 2016

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James Hill as chef of the day at our wine luncheon delivered a wonderful meal. His compatriots in crime were Gary Linnane and Mark Bradford.

Canape. The first was smoked Snowy Mountain river trout with horseradish on Iggy’s bread. As usual the Iggy’s was crisp, tasty and just bloody delicious. As was the trout. The other was a baked olive dish. A first for most of us it had coriander, orange peel and other stuff. Simple and delicious.

Aperitif wine. A Game of Vat 47’s. Take your pick from maderised 2000’s Chardonnays to medium brown examples. Those who refused to taste dark examples missed some pretty good wines. We also had a couple of bottles of the Vat 47 1999 vintage complete with a Lower Fort Street covering of dust. Both the 1999 and 2000 were under cork the former being in better condition and more consistent.

Main course. Duck but not as know it. A confit duck reminiscent of pulled pork in style was topped with a potato mash. The duck was slow cooked and just wonderful. A delight to dig down and find the duck meat. James served this with slow cooked courgettes with tarragon. Whilst served as a separate dish it went famously when mixed in with the mash and duck. A very good winter dish which we could all equally enjoy in a January heat wave.

The wines – a wine lunch.

$1·         By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir 2010

$1·         Remoissenet Gevrey-Chambertin 2009

$1·         Craggy Range Calvert Pinot Noir 2009 (Central Otago)

$1·         Tenuta di Ghizzano Veneroso Toscana IGT 2010 (predominately Sangiovese)

$1·         Yannick Amirault Bourgueil la Petite Cave 2009 (Cabernet Franc)

$1·         Tyrrells 4 Acres Shiraz 2007

A fabulous selection of wines. The three Pinots were a class of contrasts. The By Farr was a stand out for many. The Craggy Range was the sweetest of the group. The Tuscan had wonderful Sangiovese savoury overtones and a little sweetness from the (IGT) Cabernet blend. The Bourgueil had very dusty tannin overtones, a classic 100% Cabernet Franc wine. Finally, the Tyrrells wine is one of their finest labels. Some found it underdeveloped and needing more time. Whatever, great fruit and much in front yet to come.

Cheese and coffee. James Hill in his acting Cheesemaster role wrapped around being in the kitchen presented Perezin Millefoglie al Marzemino a semi-hard Italian cheese. Much appreciated by all. Nutty, savoury and more. The salad was Treviso lettuce with fennel, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A great match for the cheese.

Coffee was a “bitsa”. Bit of this and that.

Lunch 21 June 2016

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James Tinslay ably supported by David Madson attempted to convince the gods of weather that it really was winter with a dish so styled. It still reached 20C in Bridge St despite this.

Canape. We had two. Firstly, an olive tapenade with kale, anchovies an other bits topped with goat’s cheese and served on bread pieces. Then, beef meatballs with a spicy tomato based dipping sauce. Numbers at 31 were low but 120 meatballs and 90 of the tapenade dish went missing before the main.

Aperitif wine. The main aperitif wine was Bernard Fouquet Cuvee de Silex Vouvray. Surprisingly on the sweeter style which has a place but not with these canapes. A few individual bottles including a Tyrrells HVD Vat 4 Semillon 2003 were also served. Apparently for the lucky few who saw it, they thought it was fabulous.

Main course. A rich and spicy middle eastern themed lamb casserole made up the main. The lamb was shoulder lamb and had been slow cooked with masses of cumin, coriander, garlic and garam masala. Tomato was also dominant. The REX kitchen may have hints of a middle eastern market for a few days. Served on sweet potato mash with sugar snap peas it was a winter’s day dish but the gods of weather were not playing ball.

The wines.

$1·        Marina Coppi Catellania Colli Tortonesi Barbera (Piedmont) 2009

$1·        Calo Reserva Tempranillo 2007

$1·        Hardys HRB D646 Shiraz 2008 (McLaren and Clare)

$1·        De Bortoli Yarra Shiraz Viognier 2007

The Coppi Barbera, in retrospect, was the wine of the day. Its drying balance combined with some power on the middle palate made it a winner. The Calo was well known to many members and is a very good example of a true Spanish Tempranillo. Savoury and drinking very well.

The wines to match the cheese were of a big sweet Aussie style beloved by many. The Hardy’s needs more time but is a fine wine just too young. The De Bortoli divided opinions. Maybe the Viognier portion, small though it may be, added a sweetness that turned some off. Overall too sweet for many.

Cheese and coffee. James Hill again in his acting Cheesemaster role served a semi hard Venetian cheese, Perenzin Montasio, an unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese. The Montasio was almost crumbly at 15 months of age with a very thick dark rind. It stood up very well to the very big and rich reds of the final bracket.

Ferrier Spencer returned with the AA Kenya beans which he ensured were used correctly in the coffee’s preparation. The result was a medium bodied but rich and smooth. Enjoyable.