Lunch 7 July 2015

Andrew Mitchell, assisted by Steve Liebeskind, was in the kitchen, and some pretty classy Indian food was the result. As starters, there was a thick spiced pumpkin and kumera soup served in teacups, and pork satay sticks, marinated in Eastern spices with a chili hit, and grilled just so. To wash them down, it was chiefly a 2003 Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling, sound and soft, and an array of others, including both the Fino and Amontillado sherries from Lustau.

For the main course, it was a roghan josh –style lamb curry, with diced lamb leg cooked in a rich sauce with English spinach leaves, sliced green chilis, plenty of garam masala and coconut milk for extra flavour and texture. Not very hot, but sliced fresh birdseye chilis served as a garnish provided plenty of burn for those who wanted it. Long grain rice was well cooked and served in moulded discs with a spicy date chutney. There were authentic curry flavours with a delicate hand on heat so as not to disturb the faint-hearted. Delicacy was the key to the accompanying wines, a 2013 Tellurian marsanne from Heathcote, high on alcohol at 14% but a bit dull; and a 2013 Rose from the same maker, made on shiraz, grenache and nero d'avola (a Sicilian grape) which was definitely in the crisp and savoury French style and a much better match with the food.

The cheese arrived late, but although slightly cold was a delight: one of the Society favourites, Taleggio washed rind from Lombardy in Italy. With golden rind and delicate nutty paste, this worked very well with some simple sliced apple and strawberries, and with a couple of bigger wines: a 2012 Avance pinot from Tasmania from the Glaetzer-Dixon stable and surprisingly robust and potentially long-lived considering the variety and origin; and a 2004 Bethany Barossa shiraz, restrained at 13.5% alcohol and in style, fine tannins underpinning a lovely drink at (or maybe slightly past) its best.

The coffee came from medium roast Monsooned Malabar beans from India, so called because the green beans are exposed to monsoon rains after harvest, losing some acidity in the process. It was robust and pungent with a clean finish. Some home- made coconut balls from the chef were a sweet and soft accompaniment.

Wine tasting 30 June 2015

As if EOFY problems weren't enough, our industrious Wine Master presented a lineup of 6 reds with no identification except that 1 was from each of California, France and Italy and the rest were from Oz. We were told to identify and talk about the style and fruit/acid/tannin balance rather than their origins, but that didn't stop members from trying, with varying degrees of success.

Fortunately the food, from Master Nick Reynolds, was not masked, and indeed deliciously apparent. Canapes of rich smooth sweet and creamy chicken liver on toasts, and of crème fraiche made from the leftovers from the handmade butter on the tables inside a round of cucumber topped by salmon roe, were a nice match for a few aperitif whites, notably a 1999 Lindemans Bin 9455 Hunter River Semillon which was still in good order although with fruit starting to drop out. The usual Lustau sherry was somewhere in the mix as well as a couple of rieslings which went fast.

To accompany the mystery wines, Nick produced a simple but elegant (if cholesterolic) dish of lamb shank with sauce on mash. Ah, but with differences: the shanks had been cooked sous vide for 48 hours at 60 degrees, the sauce combined a warm mirepoix of vegetables with a variety of stocks and 2 bottles of good red; and the mash was of the Parisian variety ,with a load of butter which would do Guillaume Brahimi proud. The meat was the star, the slow cooking removing all trace of greasiness from the cartilage and yielding a soft, uniformly pink, meat on the bone. As to the wines, they were finally revealed as: 2011 Seghifio zinfandel from California; 2010 Cerotto nebbiolo From Italy; 2008 St George cabernet from Coonawarra; 2007 Balmoral shiraz from McLaren Vale; 2005 Ch Lanessan from Bordeauz; and 2001 Shottesbrook Cabernet from McLaren Vale. Opinions varied wildly but there was a consensus that wines 3, 6 and 5 were the pick, with Balmoral not far behind and the 1st 2 foreigners lacking, at this age at any rate.

For no particular reason (other than taste and quality), we were taken to Spain with the cheese, a Queso Iberico made on a mix of cow's sheep and goat's milk and showing the distinctive plaited grass imprints on the rind. A medium hard cheese with a distinct nuttiness and sweet finish on the palate, it was once again a crowd-pleaser, accompanied by a simple green leaf salad with a mild, slightly sweet vinaigrette.

The coffee, from Master Spencer Ferrier, was the Illy commercial blend, the best of the commercial coffees with plenty of Italian-style dark roasted bean flavour.

Lunch 23 June 2015

With Scott Witt in the kitchen, some quality (North) American food was inevitable, and we got it. Assisted by the ubiquitous James Hill, Scott first presented canapes of chopped liver, the New York version of a pate only more chunky with chopped boiled eggs and plenty of chicken liver flavour, served on thin toasts, and clams/vongole/pippis served on the ½ shell under a crust of citrusy toasted breadcrumbs. A variety of wines appeared with these, chiefly a 2004 Alkoomi Riesling from WA, sound and developed but lacking intensity. There were also a few leftovers from the COTY Dinner on Saturday night, including a '98 Bin 389, a classy Bannockburn shiraz and a bit of Tyrrells Vat 6 pinot, together with the usual, but always welcome, Lustau sherry.

The main course was made to satisfy, with tender marylands of chicken twice dipped in a light batter flavoured with herbs and a touch of chili, then deep fried, coming to the table moist and succulent with a crisp but light batter coat. Accompanying it was what Scott called a broccoli confit, with florets cooked low and slow in oil infused with spice and chilli (again, but mild) resulting in a soft and unctuous dish, and some well -cooked chat potatoes. Two wines from 2002 were the matches: a Tatachilla Partners cabernet-shiraz and a Burtons Limestone Coast merlot. Both were drinking surprisingly well for their age and quality, the Tatachilla soft and mellow with nowhere to go, and the Burton more structured but still in balance and at its peak.

The Cheese Master, Ross MacDonald, pursued the US theme with the universally popular Cabots clothbound cheddar from Vermont, a real find with the texture and soft mushroom flavour of an English cheddar, accompanied simply by dates, walnuts and lemon-sprinkled sliced apple. We stayed in 2002 with the wines: a monster (14.5%) Taylors Clare shiraz dripping with ripe fruit and chocolate notes; and a Pepperjack Barossa shiraz, also 14.5% and fruit-dominant but with clean tannins giving it greater life on the palate and most members' pick as wine of the day.

The American theme, mercifully, did not extend to the coffee, a medium roast from Sidamo in Ethiopia, showing warm chocolate and spice notes on the palate with a good hit of acid to prolong the finish. A splash of leftover Taylors port made a welcome addition.

Lunch 16 June 2015

As winter closes in, the inventive Greg Sproule returned to the kitchen to give us boiled bunny- but not as you know it. But first, it was waste not...with the canapes, the kidneys from Greg's rabbits providing tasty snacks on sticks together with a good rich pate on croutons and pieces of fresh celery filled with a chevre broken down with cream. A 2006 Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling was still in fresh and zingy condition, whilst a Lustau amontillado sherry was available, smooth and nutty, for those who wanted something a bit warming.

Back to the bunnies. Large farmed rabbits were cut up and casseroled in a sauce of aromatic vegetables, which were served with it on a bed of potatoes Anna, accompanied by prunes and mushroom caps filled with a hit of bitter chocolate for extra flavour. Rabbit always tends to dryness, and Greg did a pretty good job of counteracting that and lifting the blandness of "underground chicken", although a bit of extra salt helped. Wine master Hilton Chapman went French with the wines, 2009 Coudulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone, and Guigal Crozes-Hermitage from the same year. Both were typical of the Rhone, but the Cotes was the better of the two with good fruit and acid from mainly grenache grapes, the Guigal, predominantly shiraz, being slightly sour and under-ripe.

The cheese was also French, and a 1st look at a washed rind D'Affinois, usually known for its brie-style surface ripened cheeses. It came to the table a little cold but once it warmed up it showed as a wonderful washed rind, with a lovely amber-coloured rind and a paste of delicate nuttiness which had many thinking taleggio. An accompanying salad of green and red leaves was dressed with a good, if slightly tart, vinaigrette, and both were well covered by a brace of Aussie cabernets from 2002: the Huntington Estate Special Reserve from Mudgee, and the Orlando St Hugo from Coonawarra. Both had their features, but for most the rich ripe characters of the Mudgee wine, still well in balance, outclassed the softer, restrained character of the St Hugo, not up to its usual strength of fruit.

The coffee, arranged by Spencer Ferrier,was a medium roast bean from the Aceh region of NW Sumatra. It showed a good palate on the light side, with refreshing acidity on the finish.

Lunch 9 June 2015

The Mixed Lunch following the Queen's birthday brought out a merry crowd of 41 eager to enjoy themselves.Peter Black was in the kitchen ably assisted my his wife Margaret.

First off was a spoon of home smoked salmon which after curing in brown sugar and salt was washed off and smoked for 6 hours over cherry wood.This was served with a spot of wasabi mayonnaise and decorated with a little salmon roe. Delicious.

The following canape was Peter's home made terrine consisting of pork belly,chicken, chicken livers and pistachionuts,seasoned with fines herbes,nutmeg,thyme,sage & allspice.Served on slices of baguette with toppings of both cornichon or onion puree it won many plaudits.

Aperitif wines were Wolf Blass White Label Chardonnay 2003 - still drinking very well although one or two members feltit was getting past it's drinking window.Others felt strongly that this was not the case and it still had time in hand.Two fine sherries were also on offer Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla and Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos - both well known to members and as ever superb and full of character.

Main course was a hearty chicken broth containing the bird with tarragon,garlic,onions,leek,fennel, kipfler potatoes tomato and verjuice.Topped with some pistou(tarragon,parmesan & olive oil) it provided a tasty and satisfying dish.

Wines with this were Kayena Vineyard Tamar Ridge Pinot 2009 and La Zona Barbera 2010.Opinions were divided over thebest match with the Pinot just getting the vote.

Cheese was a Bleu de Laqueuille from the Auvergne made from pasteurised cow's milk.Salty and tangy it was a good example of it's type - not overpowering but certainly no shrinking violet.

Two Coonawarra Cabernets from 2004 were the choice to accompany this.Burton and Zema Estate again dividedthe room with the nod going to the Burton.Great fruit standing up to a cheese with muscle.

Coffee was from Ethiopia - a washed blend with full flavour,good acidity and a long finish.

Lunch 2nd June 2015

 "Virgin Chef" David Madson with James Tinslay asssisting ventured into the kitchen to produce same fine fare for some 35 members.Proceedings got off to a good start with canapes of smoked trout and avocado blended with horseradish cream and lemon on crackers.James produced a goat's cheese asparagus and leek frittata.Both canapes were a good match to the canapé wine which was Tyrrells Vat 4 Stevens Semillon 2007 a classic hunter bouquet, palate was lengthy and complex still drinking "young" and only 12%Alc .The seal was stelvin. Some members had ventured out to Milperra to vista Joe Periera smallgoods factory on the  weekend and brought back some experimental chorizo to try, it was served blind with a request to identify the was duck!! 

Our main course was a spiced rubbed Lamb back strap which came to the table perfectly moist and tender. The spice rub was coriander cumin and fennel seeds baked then ground with addition of olive oil and Harissa.The flavour of the spices  were evident however did not overwhelm the quality and texture of the meat. This was accompanied by some cous cous with chopped olives, chives and preserved lemon. On top of the lamb was a rich tomato sauce combined with some onion and sambal oelek.Comment was made and the quality and flavours of the meal along with contentious "tomatoes with wine"debate The food was a good match for our wines a 2009 Den Mar Cabernet Sauvignon Pokolbin Hunter Valley 13.5% and 2010 Lindemans Shiraz Bin 1003 also from the Hunter Valley. The Cabernet showed good fruit some tannins balance and spice while the Lindemans by contrast a lighter  style typical Hunter still sowing fruit and acid. The Lindemans was favoured for the food match.  

The cheese was Delice de Bourgogne from France, a white mould cow's milk cheese.Our cheese master said it was a little cold as it had just been delivered before lunch however it was a sumptuous cheese buttery sweet with the mould coat not dominating the flavour.  A bowl of  dried fig mixed nuts goji berry and dried mango were served the cheese as well as "water table" biscuits. The wines were  2009 Guigal Cote du Rhone Valley France 14% alc and 2011Glandore Tempranillo Hunter Valley 13.6%alc The Cote du Rhone is 50% syrah 45% Grenache and 5% Mouvedre deeply coloured earthy flavour  with a little spice.The Glandore was a lighter style a hint of vanilla with dark fruit aroma. The Rhone was preferred as the cheese match.

To finish a great lunch lunch Spencer Ferrier provided a Panamanian La Gloria Arabica coffee with exhibited some acid, smooth on palate and flavourful. 

Wine tasting 26 May 2015


Stand in Wine Master Hilton Chapman selected the wines for the monthly tasting. In order of appearance,  Goaty Hill 2010 Pinot Noir Tamar Valley Tasmania 13.5% alc, Tyrrells Vat 6 2010 Pinot Hunter Valley 13.3%alc, Coldstream Hills 2008 Pinot  Yarra Valley Victoria 14% alc, Corton Grand Cru 2005 Domaine du Pavillon Clos des Marechaudis  13.5% alc and two masked wines which were revealed as:Tyrrells 2007 4 Acres Shiraz Hunter valley13.5%, Domaine Lucien Barrot et fils Chateau Neuf du Pape 1999 13.5% alc. The first two wines were the least favoured by members simile pinots, the Coldsteam hills was elegant with substance some hard tannins made in a difficult year.The Corton was disappointing 05 a good year it had power and intensity but lacking the bouquet and flavour we'd normally associate with a wine of this quality.The Chateau Neuf du Pape was regarded as the wine food match for the afternoon it showed very good soft fruit good mature wine

The wines were matched with some spicy, but not too much so, food from Gary Patterson and excellent canapes from his son David . These took the form of a trout and grated horseradish served on spoons and smoked rainbow trout with galangal, garlic,chili fish sauce mixture topped with fried shallot and lime, palm sugar sauce served on betel leaves. There was more than enough to satisfy the 46 members who turned up for the tasting. 

 With them came a Tyrrells 2012 Belford chardonnay 13% under stelvin fruit driven chardonnay no dominant oak with some acid it went well with the canapes. also served was Lustau Amontillado los arcos sherry nutty dry and rich.    

The main course of duck breast cooked in a sauce of asian spices but no overwhelming heat  and  moist with accompanying sliver beet and a slightly crunchy potato gratin. There were good flavours to match the wines, and the bigger ones went better with the food.

The cheese was a "Pereezin Capra al Foglia di once" form Veneto Ital and semi hard pasteurised Goats Milk wrapped in walnut leaves it came to the table at perfect temperature it had  a savoury finish and walnut character with dense texture.

The  coffee was ethiopia sidamo guji a complex acid coffee with berry flavour and fragrance.


Lunch 19 May 2015

The team of Robert Wiggin and Michael Milward were in the kitchen last Tuesday supported by Robert's daughter Chantelle Wiggins. Numbers were down as it seems half of our members are in Europe however proceedings got off to great start with some well executed lamb and pea filo samosas and Tandoori lamb chops topped with coriander moist and perfectly cooked. Both starters had a matching dip of cucumber and yoghurt. 

Our canape wine was a 2006 Mt Pleasant "Anne" semillon from standin wine master James Hill, good acid and length an example of mature Hunter semillon with 10.5% alcohol.

Robert took us to India with his main course, in the shape of chicken roasted on ginger garlic and Greek yoghurt , accompanied on the plate with potato and pea dry curry mixture blenede with a Korea sauce and Baltin and "jalfrezi" capsicum onion sauce and and good crunchy steamed broccolini.Rice was perfectly cooked with pepperes and onions and side dishes of fresh chili,cucumber and yoghurt and chutney were there to enhance the flavours. It was spicy with some chili heat but not to overwhelm the dish and our palates . A choice of wine styles to go with it featuring a 2006 Warramate Rose from Yarra Valley 100% Malbec 13% alc and 2006 Cloudy Bay Pinot from NZ. Both were good, the local showing mature fruit and a dry style, drinking well; whilst the NZ  wine showed berry fruit with a sweetness to match the curry a good style of wine preferred by most as the wine and food match. 

The cheese was the classic Fromager d'Affinois from France, a rich cow's milk cheese with a buttery texture and creamy suble flavour. Mandarin, passionfruit and black grapes were  served with it as well as crunchy wheat biscuits. The wines were  2006 Tyrrells Steven Shiraz 13.5% alc and the 2002 Rosemount Mountain Blue Cabernet Shiraz 14.5.% alc . The Stevens was an elegant wine with balanced flavour no harshness on the palate still under developed, the Mountain Blue was drinking very well on the day still some fruit showing with good length silky tannins.

The coffee was Devon and Spencer breweed a Chai tea with ginger a great finish to an excellent lunch. 

Lunch 12 May 2015

A mass exodus overseas by members including the President Wine Master and Vice-president saw Steve Liebeskind chairing the lunch and Peter Kelso doing wines for chef James Hill, assisted by Gary Linnane. At least Ross MacDonald was on hand with the cheese, with Spencer Ferrier dispensing the coffee.

Canapes were provided by Gary in part, comprising a nicely textured and flavoured salmon rillettes on small sourdough slices from Iggy's; the balance being two types of saloumi, or spicy pork sausage,from James, simply served in rounds. One was mild, the other slightly hot, but both were outstanding, although the milder was better in texture. This all went well with an aperitif 2005 Lindemans Bin 0555 semillon, bottled under stelvin and still lemon-fresh, but with a note of toast starting to come through.

Duck was in James' sights for the main course, and he brought them home extremely well, with breasts of Dolly Parton dimensions seared then pan-roasted and served with a good red wine based sauce meurette. It was accompanied by some well-executed slightly sweet chopped red cabbage, by some chat potatoes (slightly under)done in goose fat, and a surprise slice of fruit which many identified as a not too sweet stewed quince, briefly finished off in the frypan. Vinously, there had to be, and was, a pinot, the 2009 Stonier from Mornington Peninsula, soft with firm pinot characters but a little short; but also a 2008 Vasse Felix cabernet from Margaret River, a lovely wine in its own right although opinions differed on its suitability for the duck.

Ross' attempts to get a top French cheese were disappointed, so instead we had a top cheese from Holland, an unpasteurised Boerenkass 15-month aged gouda which had an intense rich nutty flavour and a firm dense texture. A green salad went with it, enlivened with a hit of tarragon and some sliced radishes. The accompanying wines were a 2008 Seppelts Chalambar shiraz from a couple of regions in mid Victoria and a 2002 Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa shiraz. The former was rich and clean in the typical style with good drying tannins, whilst the latter provoked a bit of comment , from the " too much fruit and alcohol (15%)" to the "mother's milk", depending on palate, There was no doubt it was a typical but superior fruit bomb Barossa, impressive for its age.

And the question of age reared its head with the coffee, with birthday boy Neil Galbraith (age undisclosed) providing us with a 1981 Lindemans vintage port of soft sweet fruit and a bit of spirit to help its length on the palate. The coffee itself was a single origin Colombian bean sourced from the barista daughter of food master Nick Reynolds, mild and showing distinct bitter chocolate notes on the palate.

Lunch 5 May 2015

We expected cool and rainy weather for  what advised to be a perfect cold weather dish however the sun shone and it enticed some forty members into attending lunch with Bill Alexiou in the kitchen, Paul Irwin (our wine recorder) on wines, Ross MacDonald on cheese and Spencer Ferrier in charge of coffee.

Canapes were prepared by Peter Squires and Peter Manners and comprised a zuchinni and feta frittata as well as finely sliced lamb backstrap topped with a Greek version of babaganoush which has pomegranate seeds and yoghurt instead of tahini .There was also sliced boiled egg with a tapenade, the last on toasted bread that could have been crisper to complement the toppings. Accompanying them was the Pikes riesling 2006 drinking very well and still fresh under stelvin . The reliable Lustau sherry was also on offer this time.

The main course was a Greek "stifada", marinated beef cheek in a luscious sauce made on tomato carrot and flavour enhancers of cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves . Also on the plate was some risoni , little grains of pasta resembling rice in appearance . It was a meal of robust flavours and good texture. Served with it were a Burtons Limestone Ridge Merlot 2001 13.5% alc which showed good fruit and flavour; and a Warrenmang Estate Black Puma shiraz 2001 from the Pyreenes area of Victoria. At 15% it was a big wine, elegant and well balanced with dominant blackberry fruit.

.The cheese this week: a Tarago Shadows of Blue made from pasteurised cow's milk from Gippsland Victoria .It was a rich double cream blue vein cheese with a creamy flavour, a good aged example of the style with nutty and salty tastes on the palate. It was simply served with a salad of walnut, lettuce, rocket and pear. The accompanying wines were a 1999 Rosemount Estate Mountain Blue shiraz cabernet from Mudgee ( 14% alc) and 1999 Pirramimma Maclaren Vale Stocks Hill Shiraz(14% alc).The Mudgee wine was judged wine of the day by speakers: it was well balanced and flavoured with blackberry eucalyptus characters. The Pirrammma was well past its bed time, most bottles "dusty" with oxidised character and hard acid end palate.

The red wines were all under cork.

The coffee was made on beans from El Salvador, a sweet light coffee well matched to follow the cheese course