10 December - Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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Thanks to James Hill for the food review.

Our last lunch of the year saw almost half our membership turn up to enjoy the fare of our Foodmaster Bill Alexiou assisted by Voula Price with James Hill on initial canapés.

Canapés 

 James provided some of our canapés today the first homemade tarama served in filo cups topped with half a black olive.

The second, served on spoons, fava (split yellow peas) topped with pickled sardines, capers and onion.

We couldn’t pass a lunch without some Iggy’s bread so we saw Iggy’s ficelle topped with tarama and some of the pickled sardines.

Bill and Voula sent out croutons topped with thyme, sautéed mushrooms and Danish feta then followed by a 120 (who’s counting) filo triangles filled with ricotta, Parmesan and feta.

All canapés were a good match for our aperitif wines.

Main Course

Our main course today consisted of a tapenade, feta and olive crusted lamb rack. This was cooked over potato which soaked up the juices of the lamb.

The lamb was cooked perfectly pink and moist with a salty crust and some mint yoghurt that matched well with stuffed tomato (yemista) which was surprisingly sweet and stuffed green pepper (papoutsakia) that was baked with a bechamel sauce.

Flavours were perfectly integrated, and it was a very good meal for a service of such large numbers 

Bill is noted for making sure we don’t go home hungry and he didn’t disappoint today. 

Cheese 

James Healey presented Holy Goat Brigid’s Well from Castlemaine Victoria. It’s a handcrafted pasteurised organic goat’s milk cheese and an ‘ashed’ version of the “La Luna Ring”. It has a full-bodied interior delivering a creamy citrus flavour.

Bill chose to serve this with Christmas cake, moist and full of flavour that was a perfect match to the cheese.

Coffee 

Spencer Ferrier introduced a guest today, Rob Forsyth, who supplies most of the coffee we have during the year. Today we had Ethiopian Guji which Spencer thought was coffee of the year. It showed fruit notes with good acidity.

President Peter Kelso introduce a guest today, Trevor Gibson, President of the Federation of Wine and Food Societies of Australia. Trevor presented members James Hill and Michael Staniland with certificates and medals for meritorious service to our society.

  Following lunch, presentations were made to our team at the Royal Exchange Club.

In the kitchen chef Leo, chef Amish and kitchen hand Ashish, front of house Rex Manager Ida and Gabriela.

In closing lunch, Peter asked us to raise our glasses with the traditional toast to the Society.

Our first lunch in 2020 is Tuesday, February 4th.

3 December 2019 - CsoTD Grant and Susi Montgomery

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Grant and Susie Montgomery were out chef team today for the final mixed lunch of the year. The numbers attending were hearty given the expectation of excellent food and wine.

Canapé

Two canapés from our duo starting with a pea soup topped with creme fraiche. There was intense sweetness from the peas which again underscores what a wonderful and underrated vegetable it is. This was followed by pastry boats filled with confit tomatoes and olives topped with an onion, anchovy and butter sauce.

Main Course

The first thought that came to mind when the plate was placed in front of me was how enticing was this meal. The presentation was superb. The centrepiece of the dish was the lobster tail with a prawn standing guard either side. This centrepiece was topped with grilled fish skin. This was accompanied by beautifully crispy potatoes, sugar snaps and some interesting baked rice noodles. The latter had been slightly browned and added an interesting and intriguing crunchy characteristic to the meal. Sauce was also provided which was made from fish and vegetable stock, garlic, bush tomatoes, cream and butter. A fantastic meal. The lobster tail, or at least the one I enjoyed, was not overdone nor underdone, it lifted perfectly from the shell to enjoy its sweet meat.

For information, the lobster was Caribbean spiny, and the prawns were Australian green king.

Cheese

James Healey was again reigning over the cheese selection and presentation. Today, few of us were familiar with the Mimolette Vielle from maker, Isigny. This cow’s milk cheese comes in an amazing bowling ball shape. It had a few of us wanting to practice our bowling skills across the dining room. The cheese historically comes from the French city of Lille and is a most unusual cheese, not least of which because of its bright orange interior. The cheese is very nutty in flavour, but some found it a little an uninteresting despite the striking orange colour which comes from a natural additive used in production.

Coffee

Spencer Ferrier announced the end of his worldwide coffee tour for 2019. Today, Spencer sourced a single-origin Australian coffee from Harris Farm, which was medium-bodied with a lingering sweetness on the palate. A good Australian coffee. For tea drinkers, Spencer served a Darjeeling which he described as a summer tea.

The coffee project for 2020 is to define a ‘Society coffee’.

Wines

Whilst munching on canapes we had the Salinger 2010 (which Chilly Hargrave had more than a passing hand in its production) and the Ca’ dei Zago Processo 2017. The former was showing its age in the form of its golden colour but it had retained good acidity and some bread yeast characteristics. The latter had been a controversial wine when served in the past because of its very low sugar profile and some had taken advantage of the Campari on the table to add some flavour to it.

With the main, we enjoyed a Yabby Lake 2015 Chardonnay from Mornington Peninsula and a Curly Flat 2012 Chardonnay from the Macedon area. The Yabby Lake was flinty with excellent purity of flavour and appropriate acid balance. It was a marvellous example of a great Australian Chardonnay. The Curly Flat in comparison had more obvious oak and whilst it had bright acidity, the generous fruit may have been little over the top for some. Most commentators preferred the Yabby Lake.

The cheese had us move on to Northern Rhône wines with the Laurent Combier "Cuvée L’ Crozes-Hermitage 2012 and the Maxime Graillot Domaine des Lises 'Equis' Cornas. Easy to say in retrospect but both peppery Rhone Syrah.

The Crozes-Hermitage was showing its seven years of age with some leather characteristics in its medium-bodied style. It had a good degree of complexity but seemed a little hot surprisingly, given that there was no oak and the wine was matured in the more trendy egg-shaped concrete vats.

The Cornas, whilst the more solid wine, had relatively lighter tannins with a distinct, peppery overtone that is associated with northern Rhônes.

A delightful lunch today from Grant and Susi and reminiscent of the quality from the late-year lunch they provided in 2018.

26 November 2019 - CoTD Nick Reynolds

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

The final wine lunch of the year was upon us and in the kitchen today was one of our accomplished providers Nick Reynolds. Nick was assisted by another accomplished provider in James Hill. What a pair and the theme was duck.

Canapé

The canapés began with a duck consomme prepared by Paul Thorne. Not content to use cloudy stock, Paul fines the duck stock with egg whites to produce a beautifully clear and tasty starter for the meal. Paul had lightly dusted some orange zest across each portion which added an extra level of complexity and zing.

The other canapé was of course duck but duck pate served on pastry shells. I recall the pate was a blend of three different types. It was strongly flavoured as duck should be.

Main Course

As always with Nick, there was a lot going on with the presentation of the dish. The centrepiece was confit duck maryland, served with a duck spring roll and a whole duck egg. This was served on top of lentils cooked in red wine and chicken stock. The photo above will tell you all you need to know. The presentation was pleasing to the eye and the taste terrific.

The bread was supplied by James Hill and of course, it was Iggys, but specifically, the incredible looking large round version where individual ‘rounds’ can be ripped off to enjoy with the butter, which was made by Nick in his kitchen.

Cheese

James Healey served us a Beaufort cheese today, another one of the Society’s favourites. This cheese from the Rhône Alps is beautifully firm with a creamy texture and it was much-loved.

Coffee

Coffee from Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Guji, an area that borders Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, both coffees we have had before. Full flavoured with sweet overtones.

Wines

In celebration of his birthday, Roger McGuiness treated us to a large volume of Piper Heidsieck. Given the speed with which we were removing corks, it was a generosity that was very much appreciated. Following the rapid evaporation of the Champagne we presented the 2014 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon. We had the Belford version of this vintage last week which was showing some development. The Vat 1, however, is still in its early stages and will be good drinking over the next 4 or 5 years.

Nick described the sensational duck dish that he was producing, so the search was on to find matching wines. Over the last few months, we have had a number of examples of Pinot Noir, considered the ideal match for duck. Often in blind tastings, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese have been mistaken for Pinot Noir. For this lunch we have gone down that path with three wines from the Piemonte and three from Tuscany.

The first wine was an odd one out being a 2014 Barbera d’Alba. Made by renowned producer Elvis Cogno it had complex aromas of red fruits with a palate showing similar fruit and the expected soft tannins and bright acidity. It will probably be at its best over the next 12 months. For many, it was the ideal match of the day. Second up was a Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo from the same vintage. Here we saw the typical pale colour and rose petal aromas, and again some maturation. The Nebbiolo tannins were starting to soften and the fruit flavours were rounding.

The third wine from the Piemonte was quite unique. The 2011 Aldo Contorno Langhe Rosso is a blend of 80% Freisa (an ancient local variety) and 10% of each of Cabernet and Merlot. The name is derived from the Latin to suggest its aroma of wild strawberry. It is variously suggested that Freisa shares parentage with Nebbiolo while others say that it IS the parent of Nebbiolo. The recognisable grainy tannins were present while the fruit flavours were still lively. An extremely well-made wine with excellent balance of oak.

Moving south to Tuscany we first tasted another wine with Cabernet support. The 2010 Tenuta di Ghizzano Veneroso IGT has 30% Cabernet blended with the 70% Sangiovese. Like many of the Super Tuscans, the large vineyards of the estate are in the coastal region of Tuscany. It showed dark cherries, plums and herbs on the nose with a wonderful harmony of Sangiovese cherry fruit and the black currant of Cabernet with its chalky tannins. A fully organic vineyard, it shows what can be achieved with great attention to detail from a great vintage.

The final two wines were both 100% Sangiovese from Isole e Olena. The Cepparello is the flagship of their large portfolio. It was first produced in the 1970s and carries the descriptor IGT because at the time Chianti had to have a certain proportion of the local white varieties. Two vintages were tasted, the 2012 and the masked 2009. Both had a large input of pencil shavings oak aromas reflecting 18 months maturation in a combination of French and American oak barriques, one-third new. The 2012 wine (scored 97 points by Antonio Galloni) was beautifully poised with a mix of rich, dark, savoury fruits and silky tannins - still a young wine. The oak flavours certainly carried the palate and the wine was much appreciated by those liking this style. The older vintage was from the hot year 2009. This wine showed significant development with tannins softening, fruit moving away from the savoury notes of the 2012 and the oak characters starting to fade.

19 November 2019 - CoTD Matthew Holmes

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Food review by James Hill and wine reviews by Richard Gibson and Chilly Hargrave

Chef of the Day this week was Matt Holmes assisted by Nick Reynolds. The room was full today with members coming along to celebrate the 103rd birthday of our popular member Wal Edwards.

Canapés

Japanese was the theme of today's lunch we started with south coast Sydney Rock Oysters served with a Japanese dressing of ginger, mirin, soy, sake and topped with some caviar roe and spring onion. Then Yakitori chicken thighs cooked by Nick on a Konro or Robata, they were perfectly cooked succulent and moist.

Both a great start to our lunch and the perfect match for our canapé wine Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon from 2017 and 2014. The 2017 was showing some sulphur a good example of young Hunter Semillon, the 14 was preferred on the day with good complexity, more fruit and filled out beautifully.

Main Course

With temperatures expected in the high 30s, the lunch today was perfect. It was salmon marinated in home-made miso with a sauce of soy, sesame, lime land ginger. It was accompanied by soba buckwheat noodles, seasonal mango and watercress. The salmon was cooked ‘a point’ and flavours perfectly integrated with peppery watercress, sweet mango, noodles and the fish.

Many members commented on the originality and quality of the dish. A guest of Bill Alexiou, Mark Jensen, who is the executive chef and owner of Red Lantern restaurant gave a glowing commentary on all food presented today. Definitely a Chef of the Year nominee.

Cheese

James Healey presented the cheese today, a ‘Perenzin Capra Ubriaco al Traminer’. Ubriaco translates to drunken, a common group name for cheeses cured in wine and fermented grape must. It is a cheese-making process inspired by the centuries-old custom of hiding cheese to conceal them from raiders in time of war or the masters' accounting ledger.

The Ubriaco al Traminer is a goat milk cheese of semihard consistency that is uniformly textured. It is steeped in Traminer grape great marc for 10 days imparting a floral wine-like flavour with grape residues clinging to its characteristically dark rind.

Coffee

Spencer Ferrier continued his coffee tour of the world with a PNG blue which was derived from the Jamaica blue mountain coffee. It had a lightness in flavour and a ‘dreamy taste’ to quote Spencer. He also brought along some lemongrass tea for Wal.

Wine review 1

Our canapé wine was the Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon 2017 served first followed by 2014. Given the numbers in the room, our Winemaster took the opportunity to present some bin-ends as well.

Main course

Domaine Sebastian Brunet Vouvray 2014: Brooding nose, complex, broad palate, good balance and a hint of residual sugar in the finish.

Fraser Gallop Chardonnay Margaret River 2014:  Balanced wine, typical nose, some oak, good length and acid. Somewhat lighter than the Vouvray could benefit from cellaring another five years.

Cheese

The Yard Shiraz Acacia Vineyard Franklin River W.A. 2014: Quite linear, high acid Shiraz with some length.

Vinden Estate Basket Press Shiraz Hunter Valley 2010:  Oaky start to finish which diminished the fruit, acid showing.

Wine review 2

Apéritif wines were an interesting comparison of two Tyrrell’s Belford Sémillons. The 2017 tasted first was still austere and closed with obvious sulphur dioxide. We won’t see that again for a few years. On the other hand, the 2014 was starting to open up and show a little bottle development. It will perhaps be at its best over the next couple of years.

With the main course, we matched a Chenin Blanc and a Chardonnay. The first was a 2014 Sébastien Brunet Vouvray Sec Arpent. Showing a lot of complexity from natural ferment and ageing on lees it had a depth and mouthfeel that worked well with the salmon. As a contrast, the 2014 Fraser Gallop Parterre Margaret River Chardonnay was still bright and in its youth. A little mono-dimensional, it might lack the structure to develop over time.

The cheese wines were both from the 2010 vintages but from opposite sides of the continent. The Cherubino ‘The Yard’ Shiraz was rich in texture and flavour with a slight hardness on the finish. The Vincent Estate Basket Press Shiraz showed ripe fruit characters that belied its low alcohol (13.5%). It showed softness with fleshy fruit but starting to tire.

At the end of the lunch celebrated Wal’s achievement in turning 103 and as 50 plus year member of our Society. Our toast was the traditional rum supplied by Wal, Bundaberg Inner Circle Cask Strength Rum with 75% alc.vol.

Wal thanked everyone for being there and reminded us of his philosophy on life ‘don’t whinge, live with what you’ve got and if you have a heart and have a mate you’ve made it.

Remember love, joy, peace, goodness, patience, kindness and self-control.

12 November 2019 - CoTD Mark Bradford

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Mark Bradford was in the kitchen today and chose to not ask for assistance and prepared all the canapés and the main without the assistance of another member. A very self-sufficient Prof Bradford.

Canapes

On his lonesome, he turned out three starters. First off were mini sausage rolls from pork and veal mince, bacon and toasted fennel seeds. The accompanying ketchup was made from ripe tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. They looked and tasted wonderful.

Next up were small crepes with chopped chives in batter, spread with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and Danish caviar rolled into a cylinder and cut into bite-sized portions. I believe Mark made the crêpes which had a smashing texture and consistency.

Finally, came mini corn fritters and fruit chutney, based on Bill Granger who has two kernels processed in the batter for every whole one in the fritter. Again, these were made from scratch and were yet another testament to the work that Mark put into this lunch.

Main Course

We were provided with a Spanish influenced dish with a Basque fish stew or marmitako. Ingredients were fresh tuna, Desiree potatoes, sweet paprika, green capsicum, puree of roast red capsicum and roasted tomatoes. This was served with toasted and oiled baguette slices with a garnish of lemon zest and roughly chopped parsley. This reviewer is not a massive fish fan but I found this tasty and very enjoyable.

Cheese

Even before we tasted the cheese today it was so very picturesque that I liked it at first sight. It was Spanish Merco Queso Iberico semicurado. Not Manchego (it looks like it) but made from cow, goat and sheep milk. The creamy texture melts in the mouth gradually, releasing a rich, full-bodied nuttiness before delivering a fruity tang on the finish.

Coffee

Spencer provided a Rwandan coffee for the third time in 2019 as part of his worldwide tour. It had a grassiness on the palate and was all the more enjoyable for medium to heavy roast.

Wines (No wine notes from this week)

Mark provided the lunch with a remarkably diverse range of dishes all on his lonesome. Well done.

5 November 2019 - Melbourne Cup lunch at Brick Lane

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The WFS NSW Cup luncheon was at Brick Lane who once again did a great job serving a wide variety of dishes. A photo of the menu is above.

We began with Society supplied Champagne, Pierre Gimonnet NV, which was fresh and lively, a perfect start. After that, we all supplied our own wine and there were some beauties bough out from home cellars. Much fun was had and some of even watched the race.

 

29 October 2019 - CoTD James Tinslay

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Wine review is by Chilly Hargrave

The Chef of the Day this week was James Tinslay and in the interests of transparency that would be me. I was assisted by Keith Steele on canapés and in the kitchen and by Gary Linnane with canapés. This, of course, was a wine lunch and Chilly Hargraves presented a wonderful selection of six wines.

NOTE: volunteers to write a review of a lunch are always very welcome.

Canapes

Between Gary and Keith, there were two canapés. From Keith an unusual serve of a small papadum filled with a curry and egg mixture. Simple but very tasty. This is followed by a starter of cornichons on smoked sausage. The sausage was divine and had been sourced by Gary from charcutier Romeo Baudouin.

Main Course

Being a wine lunch the flavours were kept under control with the emphasis on some high-quality free-range chicken thighs skin-on, bone-in that had been browned both sides prior to roasting. The chicken had been baked in a sauce of blood oranges, maple syrup, cranberry and mustard. A good swig of cider vinegar kept any sweetness under control. The chicken was served with duck fat potatoes, baked carrots and asparagus.

Cheese

Cheese today was presented by Gary Linnane and was a Will Studd Comte, one of my very favourites. This was an aged Comte with our portion cut from a 36 kg wheel. It was in excellent shape with medium firmness and wonderful finesse.

Coffee

Spencer was not with us today but he had delivered from Forsyth Coffee House, East Timor coffee. It was medium-bodied with a sweet palate.

Wines

The major aperitif wine today was a 2011 Lindeman’s Semillon. At 8 years of age, it was showing traditional aged Hunter characters. Although still with bright acidity it is nearing its drink now window.

This was followed by an exciting selection of wines for the tasting. A 2014 Tolpuddle Chardonnay was a definitely in its youth. With obvious natural ferment characters, it was supported by well-balanced oak and acidity. It was followed by a pair of 2012 white burgundies. The members were general king in agreement that the third wine was a Chablis while the second came from vineyards further south. The Chablis 1er Cru ‘Fourchaume’ showed the expected whetstone minerality although it was starting to show some evolution. Such a shame that the top end Chablis have cork rather than screw cap. The Vincent Girardin St Aubin 1er Cru ’Les Dents de Chien’ was in good condition with an excellent balance of fruit, oak and acidity. The Girardin wines are made in the bigger style which brought more depth to the St Aubin. As mentioned on the day, St Aubin is tucked in behind the Montrachet vineyard and can offer excellent buying if you choose a vineyard with good aspect.

The bracket of 3 Pinot Noirs was led by a glorious 2012 Phillipe Cheron Vosne Romanée ‘Les Barreaux’. Although not classified the vineyard sits just above the Grand Cru ‘Richbourg’. The wine had lovely, bright, cherry fruit with a great length on the palate. The tannins were still surprisingly firm. A wine that we won’t see for some time as it is still so young. Brilliant. The other burgundy was a 2010 Roche de Bellene Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru ‘Lavaut St Jacques’. A vineyard on the other side of the village to the great Grand Crus, the wine was a beautiful example of a mature burgundy - complex with depth and richness. The tannins were softer than might be expected from the village, but that meant it was a great drink on the day.

Another 2010 wine was the Yabby Lake Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir. It stood up pretty well to the competition from the burgundies of a similar age, but much higher price point. The winemaker (Tom Carson) is a ‘burgundyfile’ and it shows in the complexity and vigour he has been able to extract from the fruit.

As an aside, we opened 16 bottles today that were under cork with no TCA issues. That followed on from 30 Spanish wines under cork with no issues as well. Not sure what that means. Just lucky I think!!!

22 October 2019 - CoTD Antoni Serra, La Despensa

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Today we were fortunate to have Antoni Serra, the chef and owner of La Despensa restaurant in Neutral Bay. Nick Reynolds had organised Antoni for this marquee event. Anthony is of course, Spanish, and also has a Spanish wine importing business and the Society had purchased some of these wines to serve with the lunch today. His food is based on that of the Catalunyan city of Barcelona.

Canapes

Antonio presented us with two canapés the could come straight out of a bar in Barcelona. Firstly croqueta de marisco (seafood croqueta) served on a small bed of Romesco sauce followed with a bite of roasted capsicum, eggplant and onion topped with Angelachu anchovies, which are hand filleted premium anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea. What they both had in common was a mouthful flavour. They lasted on the serving plates for a very short period. The anchovies were not over salted and had a medium-bodied intensity that did not overpower the other ingredients on the spoon.

Main Course

One of our favourite proteins, lamb, was served as the main. In this case, braised lamb shoulder wrapped in brik pastry served on a bed of eggplant hummus with almonds, sesame seeds and smoked paprika dukkah. This was accompanied by oven-roasted vegetables. The lamb had been slow-cooked then shredded and shaped to oblong blocks around which the brik pastry was wrapped. Very flavoursome however, some would have liked a little more moisture in the meat. The presentation was most engaging.

Cheese

Most would have assumed that with the focus on Spain that we would have had a Spanish cheese but they were wrong. The holidaying James Healey had selected the cheese and it was presented by Gary Linnane who explained that the French cheese was Jean Faup chevre which came to us in a 4 kg wheel. The goat’s cheese had been pasteurised and hails from the Pyrenees region. This semi-hard cheese was a real hit with its pungent nose and medium bodied, distinctive goat cheese flavour.

Coffee

Spencer was not with us today but had delivered one of the favourite coffees of the Society, Colombia, as supplied by Forsyth coffee. It had its usual full flavour but I felt the dosing was a little short and as I was the doser, I know where to lay the blame.

Wines

Antoni imports a range of Catalunya wines, a few of which we tasted on the day.

With the canapés, we had a white and a rosé. The former (Bouquet d’Allela 2018) was an interesting blend of Pansa Blanca (Xarel-lo) and Garnatxa Blanca (White Grenache). Xarel-lo is widely planted in the Penedes and most commonly used in Cava, while White Grenache is common to many Mediterranean vineyards. The wine showed a bright colour with complex fruit aromas. The palate was textural with a savoury, phenolic finish. The rosé from Espelt was another fresh 2018 wine, this time from Grenache, with attractive pink hues and fresh fruit. The palate was full of red fruits, again with a savoury dry finish.

Another of Antoni’s wines was the Clos Galena Priorat 2015. A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah it was still young with fresh, spicey fruits. The same fruit profile carried to the palate finishing with firm tannins. Still a young wine. This was matched with another Priorat from Torres. The Salmos 2011 was a similar blend, but on this occasion with the Grenache as the dominant component. Showing more evolved complex aromas, it still finished with the expected drying tannins,

With the cheese, we travelled to the south and the west.  The La Purisma Trapio Monastrell 2008 from Yecla (Alicante) still showed fresh, spicey, peppery fruit. These characters carried on to the palate, balanced with the still firm Mouvèdre tannins. From Rioja, we had a Gabaxo 2013 from Olivier Rivière - a Frenchman who jumped the border into Spain. A mix of Tempranillo and Grenache it is his attempt at a Rhône style blend. Softer and fruitier than we might expect from Rioja, it nevertheless had length and depth. A good match for the cheese.

An excellent lunch with some torrid debate about the honesty or otherwise of member commentary on wine and food.

Those who may be interested in La Despensa in Neutral Bay it is a simple Google search away and Antoni’s Spanish wines can be found at vinicolawines.com.au. A wonderful lunch.

15 October 2019 - CoTD Nigel Burton (more to come)

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Thanks to Steve Liebeskind for food review.

52 people ascended on the Society to sample the fine cooking of Nigel Burton who emphasised the importance of pairing flavours and characteristics of food and wine.

Today the Society was presented with a lunch built around the marriage of food and wine with “do we complement wine and food and if so, how is this achieved”.

Canapes

Today we started with three canapes all prepared by our Company Secretary Hilton Chapman. Normally this high standard eloquent wine reviewer stays out of the kitchen, today Nigel enticed him to go somewhere different. With that message, Hilton succeeded with great result.

  1. Smoked salmon on blini. Simple yet tasty. Hilton cooked his blinis from scratch – not Coles/Woolworth bought - we were given very light and thin blini’s, a labour of love. The blinis were accompanied with horseradish cream, a slice of smoked salmon and topped with grated finger limes from Hilton’s garden. Colourful, elegant and very enjoyable.
  2. Eggplant on a spoon. This canape was presented with flavour and body. This a delightful combination of smoked eggplant and freshness inclusive of some garlic and a few other herbs and spices. The ‘Baba Ganoush’ was topped with pickled eggplant from a wicked Virgin from Rutherglen.
  3. The surprise canape was the third - a Chapman special. Cheese, beef jerky and mint heated and served on sourdough rounds. In case you missed it, Hilton added more cheese, sour cream and the secret ingredient – Gravox. This was a hardy canape and rounded off the three starters that were paired with Pinot Noirs from Victoria.

It should be mentioned these canapes went from light to heavy and delicate to finish with tones and flavours that complimented the main and the wine selection for the main/cheese.

Main

The main was rack of lamb with herb crust served with duck fat roast potatoes and baby asparagus. Sounds simple – yes, but it wasn’t. As mentioned, there were 52 attendees and because the lamb was herb-crusted Nigel’s ‘go to’ method of cooking of sous vide had to be replaced with traditional cooking – searing and baking in the oven. This is where the challenge comes about. The lamb was rendered to reduce the fat – a major task when doing 52 prepared (French cut) three-piece cutlets. After rendering, the crust of breadcrumbs, mint, garlic, capsicum and other ingredients were pressed on the lamb and placed in the oven. Even comments about Eucalyptus (a WA wine character) were mentioned. After cooking (and resting), the lamb was placed on the plate with a wonderful portion of baked crisp duck fat potatoes and for added colour, baby green asparagus. With ingredients in the main Nigel ensured we had elements of food that complimented the wines of Cabernet from areas of Coonawarra and Margaret River – well done.

The lamb was cooked perfectly and with the herb crust, we had a fantastic marriage of food and wine. There is nothing better than spring lamb with Cabernet. Add the specific herbs to complement the elements of the wine and Wow we have a winner. The potatoes were to die for and the asparagus (cooked by walking past a hot stove) went very well with the Coonawarra Cabernets. Not all lambs were rendered properly but seriously when doing 50+ the chances of that occurring is low.

Overall the comments from the floor were positive on the meal and the pairing caused people to talk about the wine in detail.

Cheese and salad

Today we had a Will Studd El Esparto Manchego Artesano.

This was a Spanish sheep milk cheese. Many picked this as a Manchego however, there was a slight difference. In fact, this was collected across the PDO region, which meant this farmstead “artesano’ cheese was of rare exception. The natural brown rind contains no artificial colours or mould inhibitors. The cheese is aged for between 6 to 9 months until the ivory-coloured interior develops a distinctive sweet moist nutty finish with a hint of grass and wild shrub.

The Manchego was mature, hard and at times dry. It was enjoyed by all although it was felt this cheese didn’t complement the wine theme of today. Rather a Sherry or possibly a white may have complemented the cheese.

Accompanying the cheese was a vegetarian’s delight. Served to the Society was a fresh bowl of Capsicum (green, red and yellow), finely mandolin red radishes, dried berries and a light vinaigrette.

Nigel also passed around some tobacco to familiarise those who had given up this evil during the 1980s, to reflect as to what it smelled like and what it may smell like when mentioned as an aroma in Cabernet.

There was a piece of what I think was 80% or 90% chocolate for the coffee.

8 October 2019 - CsoTD Denis and Trish Redfern

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Thanks to James Hill for the reviews of food and wine.

The room was packed today with sixty plus members booked for our mixed lunch with Chef of the day Denis and Trish Redfern in the kitchen assisted by Jennifer Darren, Dennis Cooper and Josef Condrau. Lunch today also served as a memorial to Pat Healy well known to many members of our society with Pat's close family attending.

Canapés

Canapés were plentiful today with Josef Condrau kicking off with 'escargots Bourgogne' done traditionally by baking in parsley, garlic and butter then served on bread. Great flavour and texture but not overly garlicky so as to kill our wine palate. Josef advised that he initially had some trouble in sourcing the snails but happened to be sitting in a pastry shop called 'C'est si Bon' they overheard his dilemma and voila! they sourced them for him and our pleasure.

Then came duck rillette on crostini with cornichon and radish. The rillette had been sitting in tubs for a week prior to service,2.2 kg of duck flesh yields 1 kg of rillette.

A perfect example of rillette full of flavour, a great mouthfeel without too much overlay of fat.

Traditional French onion soup with brioche croutons followed served in shot cups.

Last canapé a riff on 'coquilles Saint-Jacques'.The scallops were first seared on a hotplate then assembled on a bed of duxelles, with a mushroom, shallot and Lillet cream sauce topped with a panko and parmesan crisp.

Main course

All the canapés were superbly executed as was our main course of confit duck, crispy roast potatoes cooked in duck fat, cabbage and apple, green beans, red currant jelly and duck jus.

The duck was perfectly cooked, initially brined then sous vide, into to oven to warm up and lastly seared by Denis' industrial strength scorch torch.

The flavour and presentation was superb,the duck was moist with the vegetables cooked to perfection.

The attention to detail was noted and praised with many favourable comments about the food from members today.

Cheese

It all came together today with a great example of the Berthaut AOC Espoisses a Burgundian cheese of pasteurised cows milk running across the cheese board as it was served at room temperature. Epoisses is a strong musty wine smelling washed rind cheese. The intense aroma comes about by way of its maturation. The cheese undergoes intense affinage of five weeks which was washed three times a week with Marc de Bourgogne diluted with water,as the cheese matures more and more of the Marc is added to the washing solution. The fine-textured pate melts in the mouth with a mixture of salty, sweet and milky flavours dominating the palate.

Coffee

Spencer sourced some rare Cona coffee from Hawaii a special treat for our lunch today, roasted medium showing acid and long flavour.

Wines

Our Cellar Master assisted by Paul Ferman was kept busy today decanting wines as many of the wines were large format double magnums or magnums. They did a sterling job.

Ray Healey very generously donated wines today and we saved some for a toast to Pat.

Tapanappa Eden Valley 2015 Riesling drinking well on the day reflected the austere granitic soil, floral and dry.

Brokenwood Beechworth Chardonnay 2014 bit fat and overworked, some intensity and depth.

Christian Clerget Bourgogne Rouge 2014, not a complex wine. Cherry notes a little short on the palate.

Domaine Grivot Nuits St Georges 'Les Prulliers' 2006 tannic showing fruit. At peak with traditional Burgundy characters.

Tyrrell's 4 Acre Shiraz 2018 (double Magnum) good tannin, soft, showing fruit, clear and bright.

Tyrrell's Old patch Shiraz 2018 very pure and enjoyable, be good to see how this wine develops. 

Canoblas Smith Pinot Noir 1997 brown, still showing fruit sweetness, delicious for a wine of this age.

Brown's Padthaway Trellis Shiraz 1998 great year, good mouthfeel, bright, good oak balance and acid.

Memories of Pat were shared with Monique Burton mentioning her wide-ranging interests, magnetic energy, warm smile and expressive ways and obvious enjoyment of people and life in general.

Terry Stapleton closed our lunch with a tribute to Pat saying he was first introduced to Pat over 40 years ago at Society mixed functions at which she and Ray were regulars and which included lunches, evening functions, also Society tours of the vineyards in Mudgee, the Hunter, Orange, Griffith. As well over the years Ray and Pat hosted small Society groups wine tastings on occasions at Hunter Hill. Pat was always willing to speak with knowledge about the wine and food.

In 1988 when we ran the Australian Wine and Food Convention (over 100 attended) in Sydney Pat volunteered to join the organising committee and to organise the travel and accommodation offered to Interstate and NZ members and she did a very good job.

A great day for our Society.