1 October 2019 - CoTD Peter Karr

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Thanks to Nick Reynolds for the food review.

Today we had a welcome return to the kitchen of former Foodmaster, Peter Karr.

Peter presented us with a very generous meal mostly inspired by his USA heritage.

He presented three different canapes, the first of which was tiny round bell peppers stuffed with chevre.

The second appetiser, which was more Italo-American, was prosciutto on sourdough toast.

The third appetiser was the ubiquitous jalapeno pepper, this time stuffed with goats and cottage cheese and deep-fried. A tasty morsel that was not too spice-hot for the members.

Putting the big into a big meal, Peter presented us with roasted bone marrow sprinkled with garlic chives. A sturdy challenge for a number of our members’ Lipitor dosage. There were some comments that it was a little underdone but the empty bones going back to the kitchen showed that members coped well with it as it was served.

The main meal was chicken breast that had been marinated in garlic, milk, and adobo sauce for two days. It was served with two sauces. The green sauce comprised tomatillos, onion, and chipotle chili sauce. Peter was restrained in the amount of heat that was presented with some expressing relief while others would have preferred slightly more indicating that his selected heat level was therefore close to ideal for the group. The red sauce was roasted and peeled red capsicum. On top of the chicken, Peter presented us with some guacamole as well as a (now not) secret ingredient, Huitlacoche, which is a fungus that grows on ears of corn. Thanks to Wikipedia we can additionally say that it is also known as cuitlacoche, corn smut, and Mexican truffle. Peter sourced this at the famous Sydney USA food store, Fiji Mart.

The flavour combination was interesting although a number of diners found the chicken a bit dry, which is a common problem with chicken breast when served at the Society.

The Cheese that Peter presented was a new type for our members, a washed rind cheese from Aldi. This proved to have a dual purpose of being a cheese to eat and also a form of wine education as Phil Laffer declared that someone appeared to have washed the rind with tap (chlorinated) water, which resulted in the development of the dreaded cork taint, TCA. Members who either scooped out the cheese or cut off the rind were rewarded with a flavoursome, albeit young cheese.

Peter accompanied the cheese with a delicious variant on a Caesar Salad, comprised of cos lettuce, artichoke hearts, anchovies, chevre, mayonnaise, garlic and red onions. A hearty salad to go with the piquant cheese.

We look forward to Peter returning to the kitchen, possibly with a prior reminder to make sure that we have prophylactic anti-cholesterol medication.

The coffee, presented by Spencer Ferrier, was a melange of Indonesian Blue (20%) and Peaberry (80%). It is a blend that we have enjoyed before but in this case, the coffees were, like some of the wines we see, probably a little bit past their use-by dates.

24 September 2019 - CoTD James Hill

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James Hill was back in the kitchen today as Chef of the Day being assisted by John Hall.

As a trial for this lunch, we only had two tables of some twenty-five each and as members came past the doorman they were given a ticket number to indicate where they would sit. This was done to try and have members sitting next to other members that they may not know. This is the spirit of English or European club luncheons.  Despite some early confusion for the “new”, it worked well and it’s possible that this format will be used for all wine lunches.

I had to pity for the brand new doorman today, Colin Cook, who at least made the point of his inexperience by displaying a green P Plate at his door table. The importance of our doormen is often not recognised, so please don’t just walk by them into the room, but always stop, tell them how you have paid and your name as some don’t know all attending.

Canapes

James shot for the stars today with for starters. And it was a wine lunch! First off was mushroom soup with grated nutmeg in shot cups. Very tasty and not so liquid it was amusing to see a dozen members at one time around the room pointing their heads to the ceiling trying to get the last out of the shot cup!

Three canapés were served on bread with an assortment of flavours as toppings. Firstly, was tomato, garlic and anchovy on Iggy’s bread then roasted pepper on Iggy’s and lastly salted cod on rye bread. I did not get to try them all but there was an abundance of choice and quantity. Comments were that all three were most enjoyable.

Main Course

Today’s main was elegant in its simplicity, but I was not deceived once I cut into the crumbed veal rolls stuffed with spinach. They had been cooked in butter, Parmesan and nutmeg. The delicacy required to wrap, seal and cook the rolls was obvious to anyone who had tried something similar. James indicated that this was a repeat of the dish be done in 2010 which he referred to as a failure. He sourced the veal backstrap from Milly Hill at Armidale and it was a very tasty, succulent and tender meat course.

With the main course was served Dutch carrots, roasted baby potatoes and wild asparagus with olive oil, lemon and parsley dressing.

Cheese

Cheese today was Mauri Taleggio as selected by James Healey. Always a great smelly cheese it was typically sticky and clinging (remind you of some friends!) and hence hard to cut and share but well worth the effort. These “stracchino” cheeses have been made in Lombardy since the 12th century. The cheese served with a simple salad.

Coffee

Coffee by Spencer Ferrier, in absentia today, was a Brazilian. Nothing else was known.

Wines

17 September 2019 - CoTD Paul Ferman

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Chef of the Day this week was Paul Ferman who was assisted on canapés by Josef Condrau.                                        

Canapes

You can’t have Mr Ferman in the kitchen without enjoying one of his soups. Today we had a distinctive green pea soup where the shells had been pan-fried to form part of the liquid. Included were some sheep’s milk and bacon crumbs. Paul had chosen to serve this soup chilled and it was very flavoursome. Some would have preferred it to be served warm or hot.

Next up were two spreads on slices of Iggy’s bread the first being eggs, capers, anchovies and tomato paste. This is followed by a tuna butter spread with capers. Both were forthright in terms of flavour and received praise for simplicity and taste.

Main Course

Paul always sources his meat from Feather and Bone with the intention of buying organic food farmed in a sustainable manner. The main was an Italian style polpettone made with veal and pork with a layer of capsicum in the centre. This was served on a very fine processed vegetable “polenta” with some cheese added. There was also some processed carrot to add additional colour to the plate. The dish was a success with the polpettone firm to the cut with complex flavours on the palate. A commendable effort from a very experienced cook.

Cheese

Cheese today was selected by James Healey and presented by Gary Linnane. To complete the all Italian day we had a Montasio cheese from the Perenzin family in Veneto. Apparently the presentation of this cheese varies significantly depending on its age and this quite firm cheese had become a little grainy and crumbly indicating its age. This cheese had not been served at the Society before and whilst a good cheese some thought it lacked some interest in terms of flavour.

With cheese, Paul had three side dishes. Firstly, dried fruit with fantastic activated almonds, then a pretty looking salad topped with edible flowers and finally a fruit plate of strawberries, apple and pear. 

Coffee

Coffee by Spencer Ferrier was a Jamaican Blue Mountain one of the world’s best-known high-end coffees. The coffee is mild in flavour and has a softness as opposed to a bitter finish.

Wines

In keeping with today’s Italian theme the aperitif wine was a Ca dei Zeigo Pet Nat (Pétillant Naturel - naturally sparkling) from Prosecco. Coming from the Valdobbiadene region close Venice it is a wine that contains yeast and consequently is bone dry. It had a pleasant mousse but perhaps lacked sufficient flavour to carry the lack of sweetness. Curiously we opened 2 bottles of Lustau Amontillado with the canapés.

With the main course, we had two reds from the Piemonte region - both from the excellent 2015 vintage. The first, a Mario Molino Barbera d’Alba, was in the bigger style. Still with the strawberry and red cherry we expect from the variety, but with high tannin and oak. Typical of the variety, the wine finished with a fresh acidity.

This wine was paired with a Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo. Massolino is a great winery based in Serralunga d’Alba, one of the 11 villages of Barolo. In the Piemonte, Langhe Nebbiolo tends to be a more approachable style with less oak and tannin. It can come from any Nebbiolo vineyard in the Langhe region and often from younger vineyards. The Langhe region includes Barolo and Barbaresco as well as many other areas. Today’s wine was a wonderful example of the style. Aromas of black cherry, violets and tobacco carried onto the palate with an excellent fruit purity and distinctive, yet soft, Nebbiolo tannins.

With the cheese, we had a couple of 2009 reds from Valpolicella and Tuscany. The Allegrini Palazzo delle Torre is a traditional blend of Corvina and Rondinella made in a mix of Valpolicella and Ripasso methods. The first is a normal fermentation, while the second is a fermentation of semi-dried grapes. The two components are then blended together for further maturation. Unfortunately, this maturation has occurred in old and tainted oak which included Brettanomyces yeast giving a sweaty saddle aroma and a steely, metallic finish. Interestingly this wine has been included in the Wine Spectator Top 100 six times.

The pair for the Valpolicella was a Chianti Classico from Isole e Olena. A highly regarded wine company in Chianti, this is one of their entry wines. While it still showed the earthy, sour cherry characters of Sangiovese, it was starting to tire. A very soft, easy-drinking wine.

 

10 September 2019 - CoTD Bill A-H and Peter Karr

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Our Foodmaster Bill Alexiou-Hucker coaxed long-time member Peter Karr back into the kitchen today for a joint effort. Good numbers again at about 45.

Canapes

Peter took on responsibilities for the canapés today and gave us two. Firstly, was a duck liver pâté which included bacon, cream and topped off with some caramelised onions. This was served on a baguette. Then came along a home-made terrine made from chicken and veal with a plethora of ingredients including fennel, cumin, oregano, pistachio, pepper et cetera et cetera. It was wrapped in bacon.

Both canapés provided an abundance of flavour and there was no shortage of supplies.

Main Course

Bill provided the risotto for the main using Molinaro rice and it was delicious. Copious quantities of butter and cheese had been used to give it its wonderful depth of flavour. There was a nice sized chunk of sausage topping it off. Peter had handmade 5 kg of sausages using pork fat, chicken and veal and the veritable “kitchen sink”. The sausage was tender, soft and full of flavour. A rich enjoyable dish. The dish certainly fits into the comfort food category.

Cheese

The cheese by James Healey today was Bongrain Saint Agur a blue cheese from cow’s milk from Auvergne. St Agur is a relative newcomer and was only created in the late 1980s. It is soft and fruity, with all the blue cheese characteristics you would expect, but not overpowering.

The Chefs of the Day provided stuffed and marinated fig to accompany the cheese.

Coffee

Coffee by Spencer Ferrier today in absentia, was Colombia “La Union” and was very much in the style you would expect from the excellent Colombia style.

Wines

Today’s canapés were coupled with two Pewsey Vale Rieslings. They both showed some development in colour and aroma, although still identifiable as a pair. The 2013 had more freshness, while the 2012 had more classic Riesling flavours.

With the main course another pair. This time a couple of 2012 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignons. The Fraser Gallop was at its peak, with soft tannins and bright leafy, minty fruit. The Vasse Felix was still a young wine with fresh blackcurrant fruit aromas, it had an excellent mid-weight palate with age-worthy tannins.

With blue cheese, it is often suggested that Sauternes is the best match. Today we had a 2016 Framingham Select Riesling. It had the requisite sweetness and citrus fruit characters to work with the cheese but lacked the lusciousness that more botrytis would have brought to the wine. The second wine, a 2008 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, showed the ageing potential we anticipated from the 2012. Still bright in fruit and tannin, it had great balance of components. An excellent wine, although perhaps not as a good match for the cheese.

3 September 2019 - CoTD Guest Chef Nico Flipo

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Thanks to Chilly Hargrave for the wine review.

This week in the kitchen we had guest chef Nicolas (Nico) Flipo with his partner Jess Farrow. Many members remembered Jess, a valued member of the crew at REX who is now working as a professional more aligned to her university qualifications. After a slow start numbers were excellent at over forty.

Canapes

Being French, Nico started off with beef tartare in the classic style using gherkin, capers, parsley and mayonnaise, to name a few. It was indeed classic and much liked.

He followed this up with a cream of asparagus soup which had some carrots included. I did not pick the asparagus and it was a very tasty vegetable soup.

Main Course

Classic French doesn’t come much more classic then duck a l'orange. This was served with squares of pressed potatoes which had been baked. Many will have bad memories of sweet duck a l'orange but this one had a beautiful savoury character. Apparently, it was a recipe he had not prepared since chef school in France, but it certainly a recipe many would like to get their hands on.

The duck was served with an interesting combination of a duck “jerky” topping and dehydrated blood orange slices with French shallots and pickled radish. A big success.

Cheese

Nico hails from the Rhône-Alpes region of France and James Healey picked a local cheese from there in the much loved Beaufort. This fromage is a Society favourite and it did not disappoint with firm creamy texture and fruity flavour.

Nico had selected a range of breads from a producer called BakeBar who operate from three locations in Sydney. We had a seeded loaf, a white loaf and a wholemeal loaf. They are a high-quality producer almost up there with Iggy’s.

Coffee

Spencer Ferrier’s pick was a strong black style of coffee which turned out to be Mexican. The big surprise was that after some had complimented him on the coffee, he advised it was decaffeinated. Despite my reservations, I loved its full flavour.

A much-enjoyed lunch with our guest couple presenting a very professional meal. Nico mainly does private catering for dinners large and small. Some asked for contact details and they are as follows:

Nicolas Flipo 0406051373

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wines

Today’s wine selection to match the canapés was a mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay. All were well received and prompted some interesting discussion. These were naturally accompanied by a fine Fino.

The duck course was presented with a couple of Australian Pinot Noirs. A 2010 Medhurst Pinot was showing youth and bright fruit with a slightly hard tannin grip. This was paired with a 2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot. While fully mature and more on the nose, it had good weight and complex flavours. It was perhaps the better match of the two for the duck.

With the cheese, we had a 2013 Wynn’s Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2004 Taylor’s Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon. The former showed the expected pure fruit aromas with a delightful blackcurrant flavour and grippy Cabernet tannins. So well balanced. The latter was a blend of Clare and Coonawarra. The ripe, almost jammy, fruit was still apparent on the nose. In the mouth, the fruit was showing its age and was now out of balance with the still aggressive tannins.

27 August 2019 - CoTD Hal Epstein

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Thanks to James Hill for the food review and Chilly Hargrave for the wine review.

We had a great roll-up for lunch today with 52 members booked. Our current Seafood Chef the Year, Hal Epstein, was in the kitchen and Winemaster Charles (Chilly) Hargrave presenting his first wine tasting since taking over the role.

Canapes

Hal presented two canapés today both a very good match with our aperitif wine the 2010 Keith Tulloch Semillon from the Hunter Valley.

Firstly bocconcini sandwiched between basil leaves (two types, local and Thai ) and cherry tomatoes.

Then followed Lavosh biscuit with Liptauer (Austrian style cream cheese with paprika and caraway) topped with a slice of Polsky pickled cucumber.

Main Course

We didn't go home hungry today..at the suggestion of our Foodmaster Hal served us whole knuckle of Schweinshaxe mit Rotkohl. This translates into pig’s knuckle with red cabbage, roasted to obtain a crisp crackly skin covering the delicious pork leg parts and meat – traditional European fare. It was served today with red cabbage (finely cut with granny smith apple, butter, sugar and apple cider vinegar) and boiled chat potatoes with parsley finish.

It was perfectly cooked. Hal advised he had purchased the meat from a butcher in Hurstville specialising in pork and he finished it in the kitchen for us today.

Cheese

Gary Linnane presented the cheese today selected by James Healey in absentia.

It was the Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar, a Pasteurised cow's milk cheese from Tasmania. Pyengana has an open texture and can be crumbly curd structure. Being a handmade farmhouse cheese, variations in character will appear determined by the season and conditions when the cheese was made. General aromas are reminiscent of summer grass, herbs and honey. The cheddar can be released at around six months but develops into a far more interesting cheese if cellared to twelve months or more.

The majority of comments on cheese today stated that this was the best example of Pyengana we've tasted at our lunches.

Coffee

Continuing our around the world theme of coffee we had a single-origin coffee from Peru. It had fruity notes and quite aromatic with a full flavour finish.

Wines

Today’s wine lunch provided an eclectic range of wines.

With the aperitif, we had ample supplies of the 2010 Tulloch Semillon. A wine that surprised many with its freshness and regional intensity. Perhaps drinking near its best, it was another testament to the ageability of Hunter Semillon and the screwcap closure.

Four wines were presented with the pork knuckle main course. Riesling is the traditional accompaniment for this dish. The first, a 2009 Hugel Jubilee Riesling, was from the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg vineyard. This was a warm year and it showed rich fruit characters although a dry finish. Diam cork.

The matching wine was the 2010 Egon Muller Kabinett Riesling from the Grand Cru Schwarzhofberger vineyard. A very different wine to the first, this showed obvious botrytis apricot notes with citrus fruits. Although quite sweet. It had an intensity that made it a great match for the pork. Screwcap.

Two Burgundies were also matched to the main course. The first, a 2011 Maison Roche de Bellene Volnay Les Mitans (1er Cru) perhaps lacked the fruit intensity expected of the village and the tannins were a little green from this cool vintage. The 2012 Domaine de Bellene Beaune Les Grèves (1er Cru) showed the depth and intensity expected from this village with a fine tannin structure. I believe both wines suffered from development under cork and there was discussion in the room about bottle variability due to cork. One of the Beaune bottles was rejected due to a TCA taint.

With the cheese came two great Italian Sangiovese from the radiant 2009 vintage. Again warm, as in Alsace, it produced wines of genuine ripeness and depth. The 2009 Antinori Pian delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino (cork) was, as expected, a wine with full maturity and an obvious oak overlay. Tannins were still firm. In contrast, the 2009 Isole e Olena Ceparello was a vibrant and beautifully balanced wine. At 10 years of age, this wine still had a freshness and vigour that will ensure a long life. Not surprisingly it was closed with a screw cap. No bottle variation here.

20 August 2019 - CoTD Peter Manners

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Thanks to Nick Reynolds for the food review and Chilly Hargrave for the wine review.

Today we had the pleasure of having Peter Manners as chef, a notable occasion as he is the second oldest member of the Society. He was ably assisted by Peter Squires, on his welcome return to lunches after an absence, and Bill Alexiou-Hucker.

The (mainly French) wines for today’s lunch were all generously provided by our member Tony Scott.

Peter is not called the canapé master without a reason. Today he served three different fish-based treats, all mixed with sour cream, lemon, and cream cheese. The first, which was served in home-made pastry cones, was minced smoked cod; the second was smoked salmon slices served on a seafood biscuit, and the third was sardine served on a pastry base. All were delicious and excellent accompaniments to our pre-lunch wine.

The main course, which was described by Peter as “lovely legs,” comprised extremely well-cooked chicken legs served on a bed of fusilli pasta, a generous helping of peas, and some potato to soak up the delicious sauce, which contained lemon and oranges, marmalade, mustard and stock. The meal was well received by our members and a good match for Tony’s wines.

The cheese, which was extremely rich, was a Délice de Bourgogne, which is a soft-ripened cow’s milk which has extra cream added during the cheese-making process. Peter served dried fruit and cashews as an accompaniment, which went well with both the cheese and the white wines served to complement the fat-rich cheese.

Spencer Ferrier showed us a Guatemalan coffee that had a note of chocolate and orange on the palate.

During the lunch, the announcement was made of Paul Ferman’s resignation as Wine Master. His artwork is receiving well-deserved serious acclaim overseas and, as a result, he will be spending more time travelling. His achievements as Wine Master, including broadening our palates with many wines that were new to many members, were celebrated and he received a resounding three cheers led by the new Wine Master, Charles “Chilly” Hargrave.

Wines.

An exceptionally rare range of Bordeaux was very generously supplied by Tony Scott for this week’s lunch. They were certainly different from the wines we normally see at our lunches and a joy to drink. All from some of the many chateaux that the Lurton family have in the region - the whites generally from Pessac-Leognan and the reds from the Right Bank.

With the aperitifs:

Chateau de Rochemorin 2015 - A 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Pessac-Leognan. This showed lively, fresh gooseberry fruit with a fine acidity. Perhaps drinking at its best, it belied its age of 4 years.

Chateau Couhins-Lurton 2015 - Another 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Pessac-Leognan, it was in a superior category with more layers of fruit and great complexity. It showed obvious oak, but this was in great balance with the weight and flavour on the palate.

Chateau Barbe-Blanche 2014 - A fresh fruit style that went well with Peter’s main course. It had a mix of varietal fruits with some plum Merlot characters supported by leafy, cassis aromas of the two Cabernets. As expected soft tannins with a background of old oak.

Château du Lussac 2010 - A much older and more complex style, it was a traditional Right Bank blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. More new oak was apparent on the nose of this wine with more complexity of fruit development. The palate had more length and balance than the previous red and most likely drinking at its best.

Our Cheese Master continued the French theme with a Délice de Bourgogne - a soft, ripe, triple cream cheese from Burgundy. A cheese like this calls for a white wine with some acidity to cut through the fat.

Chateau La Louvière 2010 - Another Sauvignon Blanc, but this time with a little Sémillon. The wine showed the development that we might expect in 5 years time from the Couhins-Lurton. Probably moving into its third phase, its rich flavours and acidity were a good balance for the cheese.

Montgomery’s Hill Chardonnay 2010 - A wine that we have good supplies of in our cellar, it was still fresh and lively. An excellent balance of wild ferment struck match, barrel ferment, lees and bottle age. Its fruit went well with the cheese but perhaps needed a little more acidity to work with the cheese.

A truly delicious cheese, but I suggest we have a defibrillator on hand the next time it comes to the table.

13 August 2019 - CoTD Steve Liebeskind

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Unfortunately, the nominated Chef of the Day had to withdraw at short notice, but fortunately, his “to be” assistant, Steve Liebeskind, put his hand up to cook in his place. Steve pulled in a favour from Paul Irwin who was his assistant on the day.

Canapes

Not to be put off by such short notice, the guys turned on three canapés.

The first was veal and pork terrine served on sourdough, topped with an onion relish. Then a beetroot relish topped with goats’ cheese in a pastry shell. This was followed by chicken liver pate with a Cornish on bread rounds.

The presentation was very exact and the comments from members complimentary.

Aperitif wine

Ignoring a few odd bottles thrown in, the aperitif wine today was the Coldstream Hills Chardonnay 2013. This relatively lightly oaked Chardonnay at 6 years of age was drinking well and unless you are a person who likes to see drying fruit (and there are a few), this wine is drinking at its peak and was quite enjoyable. The fruit was still definable and this wine under screwcap confirmed why the label is always reliable.

Main course

The main today was delightfully simple but as always, the execution was not a simple as it seemed. Steve is one of our Society’s top chefs and reasserted that at this lunch. Look at the image of the main course. The eye fillet at (sourced from three providers) at first glance looked like it had been cooked by sou vide. However, we were told this is not the case. There did not appear to be much variation around my table and the doneness was perfection.

To accompany the beef were orange and purple heirloom carrots, mushrooms with sweet soy and zucchinis lightly roasted with a tarragon sprinkling. The real treat was the jus. Steve roasted about 8 kg of bones then added wine and reduced the stock. It was a show stealer and every bit of bread on every table was used to soak it up.

The wines

Lowe Mudgee Blue Shiraz Cabernet 2011 (screwcap)

Some age evident to the eye. Drinking well with clean Australian style sweeter fruit with some tannin. No need for further ageing

Burton Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 (cork)

We have enjoyed this wine over the years, but our bottle was showing its age with significant browning. A soft fruit palate but the fruit is faded. Its time has come.

Shiraz by Farr 2011 (cork)

A lighter style but the 4% Viognier made it sweet and to me, unpleasant. The Shiraz may have been excellent without the need to “Northern Rhone” it.

Nick O’Leary Canberra District Shiraz 2009 (screwcap)

The pick of the bunch to me. Clean and bright, in excellent condition. Not complex but a joy to drink.

Cheese and coffee

James Healey remained in the UK this week with Durras cows’ cheese from Cork. The Durras is a semi-soft washed rind, and some found it a little bland. It did lack some flavour, but opinions differed.

Spencer again served us the “Ferrier Blend” hand-mixed by the man himself. It was 80% Indonesian Blue and 20% New Guinea Pearl. Again, well liked.

6 August 2019 - CoTD Peter Fitzpatrick

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First-time chef, Peter Fitzpatrick, was cooking for us today assisted on canapes by David Madson and James Tinslay. We had over 35 attending, a good number with so many members away.

Canapes

Kicking off with the aperitif wine were bite-sized sausage rolls. These were Middle Eastern-inspired with beef and chicken as the base. Lots of spice (too many to name) and they went down well served with a tomato dipping sauce. Next was shredded duck served on a pastry shell with a hoisin sauce mixed with ginger and topped with spring onion. Very tasty.

Both well-liked.  

Aperitif wine

The main game here was Ca’ dei Zago Valdobbiadene. Valdobbiadene is a high-end sparkling Prosecco from the Province of Veneto. Slightly sparkling with some cloudiness, it was not the favourite wine of many. Very, very dry indeed. I think our Winemaster, Paul Ferman, welcomed all the philistines in the room when discussing this wine! I could have got it wrong as I was assisting with food, but the message was clear. Gotta love diversity.

Main course

Peter chose a very labour-intensive lamb shank main. Not content with serving meat on the bone he slow-cooked the shanks and then stripped and shredded the meat. It was then compressed into trays and weights were used (gym weights and bricks) to produce slabs of lamb. These were then cut into serving size portion for service. Peter achieved a great deal of flavour with the shredded lamb. This was served on potato mash topped with pureed vegetables and jus. Baked Dutch carrots and steamed broccolini completed the meal. Positive comments all round.

It’s winter, lamb, duck and sausage roll. What could possibly go wrong!

The wines

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (screwcap)

Another Black Label staying with is famed consistency. Dark red, good body and length. If you want fruit it is drinking well now. If aged fruit is your preference, cellar it for another decade. For me, the fruit wins out.

Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (cork)

I have noticed much variation with Bowen under cork. This appeared prematurity aged and past its best, but many loved it. Faded fruit.

Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso 2015 (cork)

A Merlot/Cabernet/Cabernet Franc/Syrah (or thereabouts) blend this wine from Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast had black current, plum etc overtones and whilst the tannin was not shy, it was a juicy and smooth wine. An enjoyable wine.

Marco Abella Loidana Priorat 2013 (cork)

Spanish Priorat varies significantly in size and predominant grape but today the main component was Garnacha Tinta (or Grenache to us Aussies) which is more common and all the better for it. A lighter example it had an attractive dried fruit influence and a good food wine. Lovely.

Cheese and coffee

James Healey is round ball football nut/fanatic and I’m not sure which team hails from Cornwell, UK but Cornish Kern was our cheese today. Not inexpensive, it was a real winner and scored a couple goals. Awful pun!

Cow’s milk, it was firm and dense with intense flavour. A popular choice.

Spencer served us the “Ferrier Blend” hand-mixed by the man himself. It was 80% Indonesian Blue with the remainder being peaberry beans. It went down a treat and was very popular.

A great start to Peter Fitzpatrick’s cooking career at our Society. Well done Peter.

30 July 2019 - John Rourke CoTD

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Thanks to Nick Reynolds for the food report and Charles "Chilly" Hargrave for the wine reviews.

Traditionally the food has taken a secondary role at a Wine Tasting. Today, however, it served the role of perfectly complementing the excellent range of wines by being excellent in itself.

With Society favourite John Rourke in the kitchen, ably assisted by John Banks in a welcome return to the kitchen, we were sure to get an outstanding meal.

We also welcomed back former member Jose Pereira to the kitchen presenting a sample of the award-winning range of smallgoods from his factory, Sunshine Meats.

Jose treated us firstly to smoked duck breast and double smoked chili chicken breast, both finely sliced. He followed this with two sausages. The first, which was presented cold, was duck chorizo. The second, presented hot, was Farinheira, which is a smoked Portuguese sausage made from flour, coarse pork mince, wine, garlic, paprika, cumin, and other seasonings. Normally made with wheat flour, Jose’s version was gluten-free.

Both appetisers were welcomed by our meat-loving group and were a perfect accompaniment to the appetiser wines, which are described below.

The main course was a Cassoulet, whose home is in the south-west region of France. There was much discussion amongst the group as to what went into a traditional Cassoulet, including whether it was wet or dry and whether it had tomato and/or bread crumbs. The general agreement was that like most traditional foods, the “correct version” “depends on what your grandmother made or what you were first exposed to and no-one’s going to agree anyway, so let’s just enjoy what we have in front of us.”

And enjoy it we did. Today’s version was a dry Cassoulet with duck confit, rich duck sauce (made predominately from duck necks), Great Northern beans, and three different types of sausage: Cotechino imported from Modena, the rich garlic-laced Toulouse sausage, and the previously described Farinheira from Jose’s Sunshine Meats.

The main course was universally acclaimed as being excellent and a perfect accompaniment for the wines. A number commented on the size of the portions but this was likely a guilty reaction to over-indulgence because virtually all plates went back empty to the kitchen.

James Healey continued the locational theme by serving us a Pyrénées produced 100% sheep cheese from the bottom of Mt. Baigura in the heart of French Basque Country. The Agour Petite Brebis Pimento is an artisan semi-hard sheep milk cheese that has a natural rind which is covered with pimento in the later stages of affinage. The cheese went extremely well with the second three wines. John Rourke accompanied the cheese with a mixed lettuce salad strewn with rehydrated raisins and roasted walnuts.

The coffee, which was provided by Spencer Ferrier, came from Columbia and had a nutty dense flavour that also went well with the cheese and wine.

We were sad to hear that a stalwart of our Society and frequent volunteer for door duties, Dr Neil Galbraith, is leaving Sydney to join family in Melbourne. He will be sorely missed. On the eve of his departure, he provided society members with three delicious Australian fortified wines, which was an ideal way to finish an outstanding wine and food tasting.

The wines

Chilly Hargraves was on wines again today and had a fascinating range for us to match the food.

Domaine Cauhope Jurançon 2017

Domaine Oratoire 2016

Clos des Fées Vielles Vignes 2013

La Peira Las Flores 2012

Domaine Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras 2009

Guigal Château Neuf du Pâpe 2005

Guigal St Joseph 2010

Guigal Côte Rôtie 2010

First off the rank was a Jurançon 2017 white from Domaine Cauhope. A blend of traditional South-West varieties Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Camaralet, Lauzet and Courbure Blanc. It had an intense fruit aroma, almost spicey, and a rich palate with an appealing dry finish. The next white was a traditional 2016 Southern Rhône blend from Domaine Oratoire of Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. As expected it was a dense, full-flavoured wine with a layered complexity. Of course, we had sherry. On this occasion the delightfully fresh Lustau Jurana.

The wines to match the main course of cassoulet were a broad selection of Grenache-based reds. An initial pair from Roussillon and Languedoc showed a diversity of interpretation. The Vielles Vignes 2013 from Clos des Fées was dominated by lively Carignan and Grenache raspberry fruits. At 4 years of age, it showed freshness and soft tannins. The Las Flores 2012 from La Peira was more in the New World style with abundant oak that rather dominated the fruit on the palate.

Moving to the Southern Rhône we tasted a Vacqueyras 2009 from Domaine Sang des Cailloux and a Guigal Château Neuf du Pâpe 2005. The first, although from a hot vintage, showed some delightful cherry and spice with soft grainy tannins. The CNdP carried the high oak intensity characteristic of a traditional Guigal. It has moved into a more mature style without obvious fruit but was still energetic with a wonderful richness and complexity from an excellent vintage.

We moved further north for the cheese wines. Again, we continued the Guigal theme with two 2010 Syrah wines from St Joseph and Côte Rôtie. Another great vintage has brought the spicy perfumed fruit of St Joseph to the fore. Unlike the top end Guigal wines it spent only 18 months in second use oak. The Côte Rôtie was undoubtedly the favourite wine for the day. A wine of enormous intensity and complexity. It had the spice and white pepper of a great Rhône Syrah balanced with the apricot, stone fruit aromas of 4% Viognier. Delightful firm, grainy fruit and oak tannins took the wine to a savoury finish.