19 March 2019 - CoTD Josef Condrau

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Thanks to James Hill for his review of the lunch

Josef Condrau was in the kitchen today for our fourth Chef of the Year cook-off.

Canapés. Joseph provided us with three canapés today. The first was blinis topped with salmon roe and creme fraiche. Then followed two different terrines on a baguette the first a pork, duck and cranberry terrine topped with gherkin and the second Iberico pate (Iberico is the famous Spanish black pig) made from pork belly and pork liver with sherry.

All the canapés were tasty and popular and were a good match for the aperitif wine.

Aperitif wine. The aperitif wine today was the Tyrrell's Vat 4 Stevens Semillon 2007. This wine under screwcap was in excellent condition green and gold in colour with fresh citrus and floral characters. The palate showed citrus with great length and acid finish. It showed how well wine can keep under Stelvin.

Members welcomed back a more approachable Sherry, Valdespino Inocente Fino.

Main Course. The day was coolish and a perfect day for a rack of lamb that had been frenched and then baked with garlic, fresh mint and Dijon mustard. The lamb was tenderly cooked just beyond the rare stage. The meat was tender, succulent and a joy. It was served with baked cherry tomatoes with basil, green beans with bacon and fried polenta sticks (the polenta was done with parmesan and then reheated in the oven). Presentation was colourful red yellow and green, the tomatoes and beans crunchy and good. Some thought that perhaps a jus to accompany the meat was needed but the depth of flavour and perfect cooking of the lamb showed it wasn't required. It was one of the most perfect serves of lamb the room has seen and tasted. The lamb was sourced from Vic’s meat and they advised it is obtained from Tasmania.

Well done Josef.

The Wines.

Main course

Alva Castro Dao from Portugal 2009 cork 13% alcohol a blend of Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. A smart wine with sweet fruit character and acid to match the dish.

 Trapio Yecla (Spanish) the is 100% Monastrell grapes from 2008 under cork with 15% alcohol. 

This Monastrell is from free-standing vineyards over 50 years old. Intense cherry red colour, with complex aromas of leather, liquorice, tobacco and minerals, with a wide mouth and a long and intense roasted end. It was well made with great flavour.

While Cabernet is normally the wine we associate and prefer with lamb these wines showed up very well.

Cheese 

We were fortunate today to be able to try both a white and red wine from Priorat in Spain.

Clos Figueras 2016 a Priorat blend of white grapes of Viognier, white Grenache and Chenin Blanc under cork 15% A great textured mouthfeel and acid finish.

Marco Abella Liodana Priorat 2013 under cork 2013 blend of Garnacha and Carignan 14.5% showed red and black fruit flavours and delicate spice notes. Elegant and balanced.

Both wines complemented the cheese.

Cheese 

James Healey presented a Le Gruyere Swiss gruyere unpasteurised (raw) cow's milk.

It came to the table in perfect condition. The pate is slightly grainy with the wonderful complexity of flavours at first fruity then revealing earthy, nutty and sweet characteristics that linger on the palate. Josef served some ripe pear and dates with the cheese.

Coffee

Spencer showed us decaf Columbian coffee that had some Swiss magic in the process that kept the coffee strongly flavoured and full bodied.

 

12 March 2019 - CoTD James Hill

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Lunch 12 March 2019

Some 52 members and guests attended this cook-off number 3 by our frequent flyer Chef of the Day, James Hill. The two words ‘duck pie’ may explain the popularity. James was assisted in the kitchen by our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, and assisted on the canapés by Nick Reynolds.

Canapés. Not mucking around with two canapés, there were three starters today. First off were Queensland scallops on a purée of sweet corn, golden shallots, garlic, butter and wine. The comments around the room were very positive, especially about the texture of the scallops being ‘just cooked’. Next up was a simple ‘salami on a stick’ which fully describes this very tasty piece of cured sausage. Origin unknown. The third involved Iggy’s bread as is so often the case with James. Amazing bread. Today it was a capsicum (sort of) paste, called Ajvar. More of a relish, but with full and spicy flavours. From Google, for our education:

Ajvar is made of roasted or cooked peppers. Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot (ljutenica). Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish. There are a few variations of ajvar. If it contains tomato, then it is called pindjur or if it contains eggplant is called malidzano.

Main Course. Finally, a break from seafood. The duck ragu that James used as the heart of his pies was based on a Terry Durack recipe. The ragu filling had the usual carrots, onions, spices et cetera et cetera. The 50+ pies were handmade on the morning of this lunch and were served on a base of green pea purée with poached radishes on the side. The appearance of the dish was pleasing and defined simplicity. The ragu had a depth of flavour reflecting the long cooking time with vegetables and other ingredients. The jus was the icing on the cake.

The comment of the day was ‘chips would have made it better’!

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Morin Sancerre 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

 

Main and cheese:

Mauro Molino Barbera 2015

Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre (Veronese) IGT 2011

Vasse Felix Filius Cab Merlot 2013 (not tasted for this review)

Craggy Range Syrah 2008

Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot Minervois La Ciaude 2012 (not tasted for this review)

Given the large numbers at the lunch, no two tables had the same suite of wines and so the five listed above were some of the more common shared amongst tables.

The Allegrini wine was really a Valpolicella but not legally. It had a touch of Sangiovese thrown in with the usual Corvina and Rondinella which made it a “non-complying” wine of the area and hence an Indicazione Geografica Tipica or IGT. By no means is that a reason to think second rate. Some of Italy’s best wines are IGT’s. At 8 years of age, it was a medium-bodied style with a light fruitiness as befits Valpolicella. The wine has probably started down the incline and would have been better a couple of years ago, but still very enjoyable.

The 2015 Barbera was in wonderful shape. Behind the worship associated with Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Barbera runs number two in red varieties. Mauro is a very good maker and this wine was lean, aromatic with intensive flavours. A very good wine from a very good year.

Possibly the best wine of the day, which was shared by all tables, was the Craggy Range Syrah 2008. This Gimblett Gravels wine whilst not a skinny weakling was highly refined with length and power followed up with a white pepper character. This is one of New Zealand’s best wines and you can see why.

Whilst I did not taste the Vasse Felix or the and Anna Gros wines, I would imagine that the Minervois would have been the better of the two having had it on many occasions.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey had selected a Rhône Alpes cheese for us today, a Beaufort, the producer being Thones. This cheese lit up the faces of all around the room and whilst our suppliers apparently under delivered the quantity, there was sufficient of this beautiful cow’s milk cheese to go around. James commented that as it was lighter in colour and hence probably the winter version of the cheese. The price of Beaufort is in the very top echelon of imported cheese into Australia and you can see why.

A simple salad accompanied the cheese and as usual, bought comments about salad being served at all. Tradition lads!

Spencer Ferrier today served us Monsoon Malabar Arabica coffee and explained the background to its name. We have had this coffee before but not for some time. It is very full flavoured and ideal for those of us who only drink coffee sans dairy.

James summed up his meal and the cooking part of the day and thanked Leo and Bill for their let’s get into this job attitude. He also thanks Nick for the meticulous work in preparing three canapés for over 50 people.

Well done guys for a very good lunch.

5 March 2019 - CoTD Gary Patterson

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Thanks to James Hill for the meal review and to Chilly Hargraves for the wine comments

In our second 'cook off' for Chef of the Year 2018, Gary Patterson was in the kitchen assisted by Gary Linnane and Matt Holmes.

President Peter Kelso welcomed members and made special mention of our annual visitor from the West, Basil Greene, who attended with his brother Peter.

Canapés. The canapés that kicked off proceedings were sashimi salmon with wasabi paste and pan-fried crab cakes.

The sashimi tuna was very fresh, and its intense colour was a stand out with just enough wasabi paste to add to our enjoyment of the fish.

The bountiful crab cakes were fabulous, plenty of crab meat served warm with a generous squeeze of lime. Blue swimmer crab meat was used and a corn tapioca meal used to bind the cakes, it was tasty and a popular canapé.

Main Course.

Gary likes to accompany his main portions with salads or similar to produce light fresh dishes. Today we had a salad with individual seafood terrines. Gary used whole pieces of seafood in each terrine rather than pureeing the seafood. The resulting texture was excellent. Whole pieces of scallops provided a beautiful plump centrepoint for the dish accompanied by king prawns and salmon supplied by Tassel. He had sourced all the seafood from a local wholesale outlet avoiding retail to ensure quality. The terrine was served room temperature and was made with cream mayonnaise, leeks and onions. Gary added some cayenne pepper to give the dish some heat but not enough to overwhelm the flavours. On each terrine, there was a spoonful of salmon roe to add to the wonderful mouthfeel.

Members were generous in their praise of the dish with some comment that the accompanying salad of lettuce, apple, tomato, pickled mushroom, yellow capsicum and almonds could have been dressed to enrich the flavours.

A wonderful dish, perfect on a hot autumn day.

The Wines

Aperitif

2011 Cherubino Riesling Great Southern WA (11.5% Stelvin)

Main

2012 Scorpo Chardonnay Mornington Peninsula (13.5% Stelvin)

2013 Yves Cuilleron Sybel Rose Northern Rhone (12.5% Cork)

Cheese

19 Clyde Park Pinot Noir Bannockburn Geelong (13% Stelvin)

09 Angullong Sangiovese Orange Region (14.5% Stelvin)

2011 Cherubino Riesling - A pleasant mix of lime and toast, but rather low in acid. Easy drinking. Although not over the hill it lacked vigour and freshness.

Manzanilla Sherry - Certainly losing freshness with some devolving rancio notes. The palate was quite broad and a little tired. Too long in bottle.

2012 Scorpo Chardonnay - Very new world with lots of wild and barrel ferment characters. Still very fresh, it showed a typical regional fruity profile with texture and depth. There was a “funky” dryness on the palate and quality oak on the finish.

2013 Yves Cuilleron Sybel Syrah Rosé - A controversial wine that seemed to sit between a rosé and a red. At 6 years of age it had lost its original juicy fruit, but still carried its red wine structure and tannins. A cork closure certainly didn’t help.

2016 Clyde Park Pinot Noir - Quite ripe cherry notes but showing some development. Tannins were soft with obvious oak flavours. Another contribution to the argument that most Australian Pinots need to be drunk young. Very different to the 2008 Coldstream that we had recently.

2009 Angullong Sangiovese - A wine very much in the traditional Australian red style. Although many Chianti have alcohols above 14% this wine was more about the ripe fruit and oak than savoury Sangiovese. While not tired it lacked varietal definition and flavour.

NV Lyndhurst The Grate Rare Tawny - Not sure if Grate was misspelt here, but it was certainly an exceptional wine. Beautiful aged, rancio notes freshened with some quality young material. Very textural with a balanced sweetness. Thanks James Hill for this birthday wine and Happy Birthday.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey presented Fromager blue d’affnois a pasteurised cow’s milk from Rhone Alpes France It was runny with had a soft creamy texture, the flavour mildly blue with a buttery aftertaste.

Gary served nectarines and walnuts to accompany the cheese with multigrain bread.

Spencer Ferrier provided a Nicaraguan El Penon San Juan Rio coffee showing bright flavour notes with a long finish.

26 February 2019 CoTD Peter Kelso

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Our President, Peter Kelso was in the kitchen today and was assisted by Martin McMurray. Being a wine lunch, it was well attended with 48 members attending.

Canapés. Two canapés today. Whilst I did not get to try either of these canapés, I can report that the first was sesame prawn toast. The second was tuna dip which apparently was loosely based on an Elizabeth David recipe with walnuts, horseradish and braised leek. The tuna had been seared prior to making up the dip. It was served on a biscuit.

Main Course. Continuing our seemingly endless season of seafood Peter cooked a Cajun blackened fish which was served with a fresh sweet corn and onion mix, courgettes with mint and rice prepared with preserved lemon. The fish was from the Dory family and was wonderfully flaky and flavoursome.

Peter complimented Leo for his expert assistance in the kitchen.

The Wines.

 

Aperitif:

Lindemans HV Bin 1155 Semillon 2011

NV Manzanilla 'I Think'

Wine tasting:

Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 2011

Benjamin Leroux Chassagne- Montrachet 2014

Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2014

Benjamin Leroux Gevrey Chambertin 2013

Lignier Gevrey Chambertin 2011

Remiossenent Gevrey Chambertin 2009

The Lindeman’s wine attracted comments around the fact that whilst it was good wine, it was atypical of the classic Hunter Valley Semillon’s that Lindemans and others have long made. It was noted that 2011 was a difficult year in the Hunter. Soft, not much acid, with a touch of fruitiness not often seen in better Semillon’s.

For the wine tasting, the order was as above. The Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet whilst eminently drinkable was probably a little past its best. Showing very mature characteristics it would have been livelier a couple of years ago. The Leroux was quite a comparison as it was very dry with prominent acid and showing a touch of struck match sulphur. A very good wine. The Tolpuddle stood out immediately from the older two white wines. It was richer whilst being very elegant but a little simple and shorter than the French Chardonnays. It is a very good Australian Chardonnay.

The Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin was already quite soft with a complexity and freshness that made it the pick of the three reds. The Lignier appeared prematurely aged with extracted bitterness and was probably the least wine of the day. The Remiossenent showed age and was quite tannic and whilst a good wine, it would appeal more to those who liked that style.

Overall, leaving aside some minor criticism the Burgundies were all elegant.

Ross Tzannes, as it is his want each year, supplied us with four bottles of his birthday wine, Remiossenent Beaune-Greves 2014. It was soft, drinking remarkably well with a great future. Thanks Ross.

Cheese and coffee.

Taleggio was the pick by James Healey today. At peak eating condition this washed rind cheese was fabulous.

Accompanying the cheese were figs in perfect eating condition and pear.

Spencer Ferrier (in absentia) had purchased coffee from ONA coffee in Canberra, which was founded by the 2015 World Barista Champion, Sasa Sestic. Nick Reynolds' daughter is the Cafe Operations Manager for the Group and her partner Sam is the roaster and runner up in the 2017 World Coffee Brewer's Cup. Those who went to the Canberra weekend away a couple of years ago enjoyed their restaurant and their hospitality. The coffee was Black Betty, an espresso blend, which was very soft and rich with characteristics bordering on chocolate.

19 February 2019 - CoTD Merv Peacock

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Many thanks to James Hill for the food report and Charles (Chilly) Hargraves for the wine report.

In our first 'cook off' for Chef of the Year 2018 Merv Peacock was in the kitchen ably assisted by Leigh Hall.

Canapés. A diverse of canapés kicked off proceedings. Leigh presented a flavoursome smoked trout pate topped with chives on pumpernickel followed by a lamb kofta rolled in dukkha served with a tzatziki dip. The lamb was moist with some chilli heat, a great combination. Canapés were bountiful and Merv also served us some goats cheese, tomato, thyme and leek tarts that were full of flavour, crisp and warm perfectly cooked that had members calling for more.

Main Course. Not wanting to be known as a one-dish cook Merv elected to cook a different dish to last year’s curry. Still Mauritian this time prawn and fish served with rice, cucumber and Spanish onion. The dish had a good balance of flavour and texture and was well presented on the plate. He had made a spicy tomato chutney with sultanas that were a great accompaniment to the meal. If it was bottled, he could have sold out on the day given members reaction to its taste. The curry was turmeric based, with a light to medium heat and delightful spiciness. 

Merv praised the assistance of Leo our chef who suggested cooking prawn and fish in separate baking trays to retain the texture and integrity of the ingredients.

To top off the main Merv sent out some perfectly cooked large poppadums which added to our enjoyment of the dish.

The Wines.

Aperitif 

2008 Chambers Rutherglen Gouais (12.3% stelvin)

NV Manzanilla 'I Think' (15% stelvin)

Main

2012 Hugel Gewürztraminer (14% under cork) 

2009 Guigal Cotes du Rhone (14% under cork)

Cheese

2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir (14% stelvin)

2012 Gris Tollot la Ciaude (14% under cork)

Gouais is a variety of great significance given its history as the parent of about 80% of the varieties we enjoy today. Hence it’s referred to as the ‘Casanova of Grapes’. The wine today, at 10 years of age, has had a marvellous history, but perhaps not a great future. 

The wines with the fish curry were somewhat opposites. A fruity, almost lychee, 2012 Hugel Gewurztraminer with great purity and a balancing sweetness was, for many, a perfect accompaniment to the dish. The 2009 Guigal Côte de Rhône, a savoury mix of Grenache berries and Shiraz spice, might not have had enough fruit to match the spice of the dish. Also, perhaps a little mature, as the fruit was evolved and the tannins more to the fore.

The Issau Oraty cheese was served with a 2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir which had retained beautiful fruit purity and definition. Although the oak was starting to dominate on the nose, the tannins on the palate certainly held the wine together. An excellent example of an aged Australian Pinot.

The other red with cheese was a 2012 La Claude. A Minervois wine from the married couple Anne Gros and Jean-Paul Tollot. Two famous Burgundy names that brought a soft interpretation to this Languedoc wine, a blend of Carignan, Shiraz and Grenache. It’s youth and complex earthy aromas and flavours were a good match for the cheese.

The final wine generously donated by Leigh Hall was a 30-year-old Lindemans Hunter River White Burgundy. There were a number of cork issues, but, while showing some aldehyde, it still retained fruit freshness and vigour. Perhaps at the end of its life, this curious blend of Verdelho and Semillon was a testament to the age worthiness of Hunter whites.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey presented one of our Society's favourite cheeses Onetik Ossau Iraty aged 12 months. It came to the table at a perfect temperature, a sheep milk cheeses its flavour generous and well-rounded showing a nutty, fruity olive like profile.

To accompany the cheese Merv prepared a salad of rocket, green apple and pickled radish. Created by Merv it was a great match with the cheese.

Spencer Ferrier on coffee continued with our tasting of Indonesian coffee with our third week being Bali God mountain soft, sharp and evanescent (a lovely term)!

12 February 2019 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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Our Foodmaster Bill Alexiou-Hucker, was back in the kitchen today and once again numbers were over 40.

Canapés. Bill single-handedly provided us with three starters today. We started with two canapés on pastry cups, the first being a white bean mixture topped with olive tapenade and the other was hummus topped with dehydrated chickpeas that had been flash-fried. The crispness of the chickpeas was different and very satisfying. The final canapé was lamb mince and cumin ‘fingers’, a filo pastry wrapped delight. Many members were seen following the trays around the room trying to get more of this delicious piece of heaven.

Aperitif wine. The starter today was a New Zealand Riesling from Giesen, and the year was 2012. It was only 10% alcohol. To say that the average Society member is wedded to South Australian Riesling would be an understatement. This Giesen was roughly Germanic in style and hence some degree of residual sugar. The room was not particularly fond of the style and though it was Germanic in style it could have done with a strong acid boost to balance the sweetness. The Equipo Navazos ‘I Think’ Manzanilla Sherry was served again and enjoyed. However, there were some comments that this Sherry had lost the freshness that made it so good when it first arrived on our shores and REX.

Main Course. We are talking Bill here so today seafood was the go. And how wonderful was the braised octopus that was served. The octopus had been braised for about three hours and was served in a tomato sauce. The beauty of the dish was that instead of using rice, potato, et cetera, Bill had fried a couple of pieces of bread for each plate and placed them on the base of the serving plate to absorb the tomato sauce. This ensured that we were able to enjoy every last drop of the sauce. Whilst Bill, in his usual style, played down the work involved in this dish we didn’t really care as it was so damn tasty.

The Wines.

  • Domaine Sebastien Brunet Arpent Vouvray 2014 (cork, 12.4%)
  • Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Morgon 2013 (cork, 12.3%)
  • Burton Reserve Shiraz 2002 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Balnaves Shiraz 2008 (screwcap, 14.5%)

The main course was rich, possibly richer than our Winemaster expected, and we had two very different wines to go with it. The Chenin Blanc 2014 vintage was a very good Chenin with some minerality and depth that was a perfect match for the richness of the octopus and its sauce. The Cru Beaujolais was also a very good wine with berry character, typical of Gamay but it was not a great match for the rich main. A shame, Morgon is a wonderful Cru.

For cheese today. Paul Ferman presented us with two Coonawarra Shiraz wines. Although very different wines the Balnaves 2008 was fruity, leaning to the jammy side, and I think would have been better a couple of years ago. The Burton from 2002 garnered a strong following from the room, and there was no doubt that whilst it was the better of the wines the fruit was beginning to fade. It was still drinking very well for a 17 year-old wine under cork.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey was back on deck today with cheese and served an Australian cloth-aged Maffra cheddar, which comes in a stunning and intriguing black wax. See the picture. Our cheese experts had difficulty picking this cow’s milk cheese which was wonderfully smooth and firm not yet reaching the crumbly stage. A fabulous Australian cheese.

Spencer Ferrier in absentia provided us with a new coffee called Blue Bianca which was produced in Indonesia in the north-west of Sumatra. The beans have a bluish tinge and hence the reference to blue in the name for this single origin coffee. A medium bodied and quite fruity finish.

Bill had provided us as an accompaniment, mixed nuts, fruit and chocolate pieces with some “Greek Delight”, which is always a favourite. And of course, it had been ouzo marinated. To finish the meal, we were treated to Greek Mastika, a Bill standard, which at 21% is an enjoyable palate cleansing finish as an alternative to higher alcohol spirits.

A good vibe in the room topped off by Bill’s smile and “let’s have fun” attitude.

5 February 2019 - CoTD James Hill

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In what has become a traditional start to the year. James Hill was in the kitchen this week. He was assisted on canapés by Nick Reynolds and Gary Linnane. A very healthy start to the year with some 55 members and guests in a very smartly refurbed Royal Exchange dining room. The LED lighting gives a far better visual aspect to the wines.

Canapés. Two canapés for us this week. The first was a Tet’s duck (with some chicken and pork) terrine served with a cornichon on Iggy’s bread. Good texture with a flavour that was enhanced by the cornichons. The next was a simple tuna butter mixture served on some wonderfully crisp Italian crackers source from Simon Johnson. Simple and tasty.

Aperitif wine. This is the Wine and Food Society of New South Wales so what else would we have as an aperitif wine to start the year other then a Hunter Valley Semillon. This particular one was the Tyrrells HVD 2006 under screwcap and it was in wonderful condition and just starting to show some development. The Sherry today was the Equipo Navazos ‘I Think’ Manzanilla which we have had previously to very positive comments. Today, however a couple of commentators said it was one of the lessor sherries from recent lunches.

Main Course. The big fish were out today with James serving two 3.5 kg ocean trout. These were oven cooked and served with lemon butter, baby potatoes, baby asparagus and our own native vegetable, samphire. An attractive dish to the eye with the lemon butter adding a real tang to the dish. The fish was beautifully cooked and moist and attracted positive comments. With well over the numbers expected, James did pull off something of a loaves and fishes experience.

The Wines.

  • Domaine Fevre Fourchaume 1er Cru Chablis 2010 (cork, 13%)
  • Vincent Giradin Pouilly-Fuisse 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • John Duval Annexus Grenache 2015 (screwcap, 14%)
  • Glaetzer-Dixon Reveur Pinot Noir 2010 (screwcap, 13.5%)

The fish was served with two Chardonnay is both under cork. The 2010 Chablis had freshness and minerality and above all the acid to balance out this wine. The Giradin Pouilly-Fuisse was a softer wine with quite generous fruit which many found the lesser of the pair. Some commentators not fond of the wine at all. I thought they were being a little hard on what was an good white Burgundy.

The cheese wines were an exercise in contrast. The Grenache was very much in the new Australian style with its power in a velvet glove showing complex and elegant fruit with fine tannins. At 4 years of age, it has a long future. The Tasmanian Pinot Noir at 9 years of age was showing significant browning and one of the few Australian Pinot Noir is to show a spark of Burgundy. It was not universally liked, but I thought it was one of the better Australian Pinot Noirs we have tasted in recent years.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane presented the cheese today in the absence of the Cheesemaster and we enjoyed Pont-l'Évêque. It appeared to be a little young and firmer, then we would like to see this cheese under normal circumstances.

James served a very attractive and tasty salad with the cheese of coral lettuce, nectarines, chives and lemon on an oil base.

Spencer Ferrier provided us with a Timorese coffee today and a special treat, some chocolate of unknown origin that was particularly dry and not at all sweet. Beautiful accompanyment to the coffee.

With Keith Steele’s birthday in the vicinity of the lunch he bought a long three bottles of the Cockburn’s 2013 LBV which disappeared in the wink of an eye.

A fine start to the year.

11 December 2018 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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The last gasp lunch for the year attracted over 60 members and guests and our Chef of the Day was our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker. Bill had set upon the idea of picking four recognised canapé makers from 2018 to provide one canapé each and these were Messrs Liebeskind, Peacock, Reynolds, and Hill

Canapés (in random order).

James Hill – we have lost count of the number of times James has been a Chef of the Day for us during this year. He repeated a roast duck and lychee salad which was so popular early on in the year. The duck and lychee were served with spring onions, ginger, garlic and topped with deep-fried peanuts and sesame seeds. A hoisin-based sauce accompanied it. Served on spoons, it was plentiful and gratefully received.

Steve Liebeskind - apparently an old family recipe of Bismarck herring (pickled in a light brine) with grated green apples, red onion, fresh cream and dill served om pumpernickel. Whilst I did not try this feedback was excellent.

Nick Reynolds - an old standby for Nick, smoked salmon blinis with cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, dill and salmon roe. Always popular.

Merv Peacock - Merv served curry puffs which he had served at his initial venture into the kitchen earlier in 2018. Puff pastry enclosing beef, curry powder and mango chutney provided some spicy and savoury characteristics and much liked as they were the first time.

Aperitif wine. After having a few lunches with bits and pieces as aperitif wines during the year with excellent feedback, we had one again today ranging across Riesling, Pinot, Chardonnay, etc but with a core of an interesting Spanish wine, Astobiza Txakoli 2016. From Txakoli de Alava D.O. of Spain it is made from local grapes, called Hondarrabi Zur. We have enjoyed this previously and it is a bright and engaging aperitif wine playing the educational card for our Society.

Main Course. Bill had promised us pork in the Greek style. For 62 people that is a lot of pork! The pork shoulder was brined and then cook for 6 hours in white wine. When in the REX kitchen it was warmed and plated with an egg and lemon sauce (a Greek special) with potatoes, artichokes and spinach. There was no shortage of crackling which was extremely crunchy but possibly lacking a touch of flavour. The pork was tender with the brining assisting to maintain moisture levels. A good way to finish 2018.

The Wines.

  • Scorpo Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula) (screwcap, 14.5%)
  • Ocean 8 Aylward Pinot Noir 2010 (screwcap, 13%)
  • Orlando St Hugo Cabernet 2004 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Fontodi Chianti Classico 2011 (cork, 14.5%)

The Mornington Chardonnay was a very good Australian wine trying very hard to be a Burgundy. Slightly reductive sulphur, it had texture, purity and a light creaminess and was a wonderful accompaniment to the pork. The Pinot Noir also from Mornington Peninsula is a high-end wine from Ocean 8. It was unfiltered so there was a touch of cloudiness in the glass and it was on the lighter edge of the spectrum. It was sweeter in the Australian style but had elegance that only a handful of Australian wines can match. Both excellent selections with the pork.

The St Hugo Cabernet is a favourite of many, although the 2004 was in a more traditional Australian style with a degree of extraction which overrode any elegance that it may have had. Still, it is a classic Australian Cabernet and enjoyed by many. The Fontodi is a wine that we have enjoyed a couple of times during 2018. The 2011 vintage in Chianti Classico was excellent and this wine had the dryness, astringency and savoury characteristics that many of us love about Chianti. It is not yet at its peak.

With the larger than expected numbers at each table some odds and sods left over from previous lunches were placed on each table. A fun way to use orphan wines that added to the diversity of wine tasted.

Cheese and coffee. Today James Healey served us one of the Oscar winners of Australian cheese, Holy Goat La Luna. It looks beautiful and tastes beautiful even for those who aren’t particularly fond of goat’s cheese. A special treat for the final lunch of the year, as it sells in David Jones for north of $200 a kilo.

Spencer Ferrier served us some Indonesian coffee today, speaking about the cooperative arrangements that the country has to produce and market coffee. He also left a small gift on each table of some East Timorese coffee. Some of my table found the Indonesian coffee to be a little lacking in strength.

Bill also served dates stuffed with walnuts, candied eggplant and Turkish delights. A delightful end to the meal. The candied eggplant was amazing and a new experience for most of us.

After explaining his food preparation Bill thanked his four canapé elves for their work as well as Leo and others of the team at REX for their hard work and assistance during the year.

The President closed the lunch and the year and presented the team working at REX on our lunches with a festive season gift for their contributions during the year. He reminded the room that the first lunch for 2019 would be on 5 February and he wished the members and guests present today an enjoyable Christmas season.

4 December Mixed Lunch - CoTD Grant and Susi Montgomery

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For our final mixed lunch of the year we had our meal prepared by Grant and Susie Montgomery (both first time chefs for us) and what a meal it was. Susie was responsible for the canapés whilst Grant had allocated himself the main protein and accompaniments for an excellent crowd of eager diners approaching 50 in number.

Canapés. Two canapés from Susie today, one in a shot glass and one on a spoon. On the spoon was a deconstructed smoked salmon terrine with layers of smoked salmon, smoked salmon mousse, mascarpone and nori, topped with pickled beetroot cubes and baby cress dressed in olive oil. In the shot glass was gazpacho comprising of pepper (capsicum), cucumber, Spanish onion, tomato and basil leaves, sieved and poured over a jelly made of the same liquid but strained again over muslin and with gelatine added. Dressed with diced cucumber, onion, pepper and Greek basil.

Both starters were in the look at me, taste me and enjoy category. They did not disappoint with their promise and were much appreciated.

Aperitif wine. The first drink to touch out lips today (well, besides for those loitering beforehand at The Republic) was the Seppelts Salinger 2010. The fruit was sourced from Henty in South Western Victoria and whilst it had clean acid there was only the faintest suggestion of a yeasty backdrop. Still, a pleasant way to start the lunch.

Main Course. Grant promised us high-quality Wagyu sirloin and he delivered. I could paraphrase but from the man himself:

  • Queensland Wagyu sirloin cut Marble 5-6. Seared, rested, hot griddle grilled and then baked in the oven, rested
  • A fairly complicated porcini mushroom sauce, made with beef stock, red wine reduction, butter and dried porcini and fresh swiss brown mushrooms
  • Potato stack with some cream and garlic infusion twice baked
  • Snap peas very quickly sautéed and left crunchy
  • Assorted yellow and red carrots baked in olive oil

The professionalism of the presentation on the plate was noted. Once again, the nearby photographs save me describing this charming dish. Comments were very positive, especially about the porcini mushroom sauce with many wishing there was a little more served on each plate.  

The Wines.

  • Burton McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Bowen Cabernet 2006 (cork,14.5%)
  • Clairmont Crozes-Hermitage 2008 (cork, 13%)
  • Cogno Barbera D’Alba 2014 (cork, 13.5%)

With the beef there was of course an expectation of some meaty wines and Paul Ferman delivered on this expectation. Both wines were under cork and both 14.5% alcohol. The Bowen has a somewhat hit-and-miss reputation for bottle variation caused by cork, but today there was only minor variation. The Burton Shiraz was at its peak, solid, not too sweet and not over extracted. Certainly, the favourite of the two. The Bowen had some sweeter style Cabernet fruit and was also a very presentable wine drinking at its peak.

With our excellent fromage, the Northern Rhône and Piedmont wine pair provided us an excellent and educational contrast. The Croze-Hermitage was lighter in colour with the elegance of a good Syrah from the North. A very good wine. The Barbera from Cogno, an excellent producer, was beautifully balanced for a 4-year-old with a fruity but dry finish. Another excellent example of what this grape and resultant wine from that area should taste like.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey today selected a cheese to top off a “Montgomery Day” with a Neal’s Yard Dairy Montgomery Cheddar made from raw cow’s milk and animal rennet from Somerset. It was a semi hard cheese, crumbly with nutty characters. Well done James.

Spencer Ferrier took us back to Yirgacheffe beans from Ethiopian today which may not be one of his favourites but certainly it is one of mine.

In closing, the President, Peter Kelso, presented Grant and Susie a joint apron after they had both addressed the lunch about their own contributions to this very successful lunch. The head chef, Leo once again received praise for his insightful assistance.

2018 has seen several first-time chefs and all have done a great job of cooking for their companions and guests at the Society.

27 November - Wine Lunch CoTD Nick Reynolds

 

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In the absence of the lunch reviewer we have a brief description of the wine and food served at this wine lunch.

Nick Reynolds was CoTD for this final wine lunch of 2018.

Appetisers:

  • All butter puff pastry dumplings with Italian sausage both hot and sweet (sweet = non-hot).
  • Mini quiche Lorraine.

Main:

Fish soup (not bouillabaisse) with tomato and saffron plus prawns, mussels, cockles, and fish, both ling and redfish. This was served with sourdough croutons with rouille.

Cheese:

Will Studd selection Comte La Couronne.

Wine:

Appetiser - Wairau River Albarino 2017

Main –

  • 2006 Leo Buring Leonay Riesling
  • 2010 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre
  • 2015 By Farr Viognier
  • 2012 Cheron Vosne Romanee les Barreaux
  • 2002 Torbreck Struie
  • 1998 Lindemans Pyrus