20 November 2018 - CoTD Matthew Holmes

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Chef of the Day this week was first-time chef Matthew Holmes assisted by Nick Reynolds. A significant lunch as in addition to Matthew's first time in the kitchen we were celebrating the fact that Walter Edwards was turning 102 years old was this week. We had a special tasting of Keith Tulloch wines kindly donated by Keith who attended the lunch with Cameron Davies also from the vineyard.

Canapés. For those with an affection for oysters, they were in seventh heaven as Matthew had a number of trays of Sydney rock oysters which ran out far too soon for the voracious oyster lovers at the lunch. For those of us who do a pass on oysters, we heard the appreciative sounds from elsewhere in the room. Apparently, they were very fresh and tasty. In a seafood theme, the other starter was lightly poached green prawns served with a fine coconut source made from dry coconut and served in single serve spoons.

Aperitif wine. The first wine of the day from Keith Tulloch Wine was the 2017 Hunter Valley Chardonnay (13%). The wine had been fully barrel fermented in a selection of French oak and had a beautiful fullness and length of fruit balanced by sufficient acid. Drinking well now but will certainly stick around for a few years.

Main Course. Many first-time chefs choose to go softly softly with something that they know well but not Matt. He launched into a deconstructed duck curry based on traditional coconut cream with three types of chilli. There a long list of ingredients, many of which would be familiar to those who cook Asian food. The presentation of the food was splendid with the full duck breast placed on top of the mild coconut curry sauce and served with lycees. After rendering the duck breast, it had been cooked briefly in the oven. The sweet character of the lycees was a sublime complement to the sweetness of the duck. Well done Matthew.

The Wines.

  • Keith Tulloch Shiraz Viognier 2016 (screwcap, 14%)
  • Keith Tulloch Forres Blend 2015 (screwcap, 14.5%)
  • Keith Tulloch Tawarri Shiraz 2016 (screwcap, 14.5%)
  • Keith Tulloch The Kester 2016 (screwcap, 14%)

The duck was accompanied by the Shiraz Viognier and the Forres blend. There is an opinion by some members that excluding the Northern Rhône blend of Shiraz/Viognier and a couple of Australian wines, that they are generally a little over sweet and perfumed. The Tulloch wine was neither and the Viognier as a percentage was up there at 5%. The grapes are co-fermented, and the result was surprisingly soft with a certain roundness from seemingly balanced fruit and tannin. The Forres blend was the favourite of a number of members who love their Cabernet blends. This 2015 was a blend of Cabernet (55%), Merlot (28%), Shiraz (9%) and Cabernet Franc (8%) with the latter being from the Hunter and the other components from Hilltops. Again, surprisingly drinkable at two years of age with, at this stage, a dominant Cabernet character.

The two reds with the cheese were a different kettle of fish as they say. The Tawarri is from a higher altitude Hunter Valley vineyard with some plum and spice evident. Nicely integrated oak and fruit created a solid impact on the palate and whilst enjoyable now, this is a wine for the longer term. Keith’s flagship wine, The Kester Shiraz, was a step up in power, but still relatively supple. Fruit flavours were very bright (a description that could be applied to all the reds today) and there was more power evident in the fruit and oak. This wine clearly needs time to reach its peak drinking time.

Keith Tulloch ran the room through a little history of the family and the confusion that exists in the minds of many about the multiple Tulloch labels that existed historically and how his family set up Keith Tulloch Wine in 1997. He is Hunter to the core. He also commented on the use of Viognier and his personal style with the variety. Keith also ran us through the five wines that he had generously presented to us today.

Cheese and coffee. We were back in the good ol’ USA today with a Cabot cheddar clothbound cheese from Vermont. This cheese has always presented well and did so again today. It is one of the more expensive cheeses available from any country.

Spencer Ferrier provided us with Brazilian coffee, the name of which was not clear. Mid strength and fruity were my first thoughts.

The President asked Wal Edwards to say a few words in honour of his 102nd birthday and of course he obliged. Wal reiterated his background in the 1930s beginning work for Johnnie Walker in Sydney and knowing nothing about wine but being able to sell ice to Eskimos. We promptly sang happy birthday in imperfect harmony before indulging in the 79.5% Inner Circle rum Wal had provided. Whew.

In closing, the President, Peter Kelso, presented Matthew Holmes with his Wine and Food Society apron and Matthew spoke about his food. He was cool as a cucumber and our Foodmaster will line him up for 2019.

Today was a lunch with three components, being a new chef, Wal’s 102nd and Keith Tulloch providing an excellent tasting of a selection of his top wines and special member only pricing for the lunch.

Thank you to all involved for an outstanding lunch attracting some 60 members and guests.

13 November 2018 - CoTD Steve Liebeskind

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Chef of the Day this week was Steve Liebeskind assisted by Paul Irwin and Jeremy Lubrano. Steve’s reputation on the pans is such that we had healthy numbers of about 50. It was a real joint effort with canapes.

Canapés. Three was the order of the day. In no particular order, we had pork terrine wrapped in bacon topped with beetroot relish on a slice of baguette followed by gravlax with dressing on the same base and finishing up with pumpernickel topped with pickled herring in a dressing mixed with onion. A prodigious quantity of canapés was produced and eaten, and this may account for the aperitif wine being consumed at full tilt. An excellent set of canapés.

Aperitif wine. Back to Riesling today with the Pressing Matters R9 Riesling 2015. The R9 refers to 9 g of residual sugar which adds just a touch of sweetness to this fine wine from Coal River in Tasmania. Interestingly enough, similar wines just at that off-dry level have not attracted much positive comment in 2019 but this wine was appreciated. A couple of comments suggested they would have liked a touch more acid to offset the small amount of sweetness.

Main Course. The presentation of the main arriving at the table was splendid. Steve later said that he had a lot of fun preparing the lunch and will take his word for that, but there was a boatload of ingredients on the plate and my description shall fall short of naming all.

The dish was sou vide salmon topped with sea weed flakes and touches of wasabi, the latter becoming evident when a spike of heat attacked the palate. On the plate with was an olive tapenade, charred onion, pickled cucumber and a Thai basil and silver beet portion. Oh, there was also some mushroom, but my memory runs out at this stage. What was particularly impressive about this dish was the incredibly crispy skin on the salmon, which was a real treat. A complex dish and a most impressive production. Indeed, Chef of the Year finalist material was the suggestion by many.

The Wines.

  • Domaine Roux “Clos des Mollepierres” Rully AOC 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • Clerget Bourgogne Rouge 2014 (cork, 12.5%)
  • Montgomery Hill The Mulberry Block Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (Albany, WA) (screw cap, 12%)
  • Pallister Pinot 2009 (screw cap, 14.5%)

The fish was served with the Rully Chardonnay and the red Burgundy. The former wine we had only a few weeks ago and it is a fine example. At 5 years of age it had a mature richness and fine acid cleanliness. The Clerget was lighter bodied, but an excellent example of the Clerget style albeit at the lower end of the range. It. A delightful pair of wines to have with the salmon.

The Winemaster repeated the combo with the cheese with the WA Chardonnay opening the batting followed by the Pallister New Zealand Pinot Noir. And there the likeness ends. There are winemakers, wine professionals and consumers who like a touch of sulphur in wines on the basis that it can had some complexity and body. The Chardonnay had the match struck reductive sulphur style that divides a room. Whilst proponents claim it adds a degree of Burgundy complexity it is a style that I don’t enjoy but others loved it. It was an impressively low 12% alcohol. The New Zealand Pinot from Martinborough was on steroids compared to the Burgundy in the first bracket. Too big, too sweet.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane provided us with a Beaufort cheese today. This raw milk rather firm cheese is associated with the Gruyère family of cheeses and was in wonderful condition. We were fortunate indeed to have large portions this week.

Spencer Ferrier in absentia provided us with one of his best liked beans, Kenya AA. As usual, fresh beans and high-quality beans produces good coffee.

A top-quality lunch with Steve once again confirming his experience and expertise in preparing attractive, complex and seductive food for large numbers.

6 November 2018 Melbourne Cup lunch at Brick Lane

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Some 45 members and guests attended the Society’s Melbourne Cup lunch at Brick Lane in Darlinghurst. We started with three NV Champagnes, Gosset Brut Excellence, Bernard Bremont Grand Cru and Donson Blanc de Noir and after that it was a BYO event with some fine bottles produced.

Many thanks to James Hill for organising the lunch with the Brick Lane and REX crew and to Kiran who kept the room purring along over many courses.

The me and you looked a bit like this.

Duck Samosas

Duck & cinnamon, eggplant dip

Spice Cured Smoked Salmon Tostada

Spice cured smoked salmon, citrus avocado salsa, coconut yoghurt

Batata Vada (vg)

Plump spiced potato and chilli dumpling with tangy coriander chutney

LIGHT BITES:

Naan-Mi

Roti bread wraps with roasted pork belly, spiced pate curry sauce, spring onion, chilli

King Prawn Curry Leaf (gf)

Grilled king prawn piece on prawn & coconut curry with spiced basmati & betel leaf

MAINS:

Served with spiced basmati rice and roti bread

Holy Cow (gf)

Boneless tender beef curry, slow cooked with nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon

Coconut Chicken Curry (gf)

Tomato, fenugreek, red chilli, coconut cream, with cucumber & cabbage slaw


DESSERT:

Chai Chocolate Moose

Sweet roti and honeycomb

A wonderful lunch with spices but no real heat to suit our whole cohort.

30 October 2018 - CoTD Gary Patterson

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A special lunch today with some 60 members attending with Gary Patterson in the kitchen, turning out a wonderful duck pie for each of us, and member Bruce Tyrrell, providing his now annual Hunter Valley tasting of the best of the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show. Paul was assisted by Matthew Holmes and Paul Thorne.

Canapés. Gary’s intention for this lunch was a total duck theme and we started off with duck consommé, which was made using the carcasses of the ducks which had been clarified with egg whites and flavoured with some saffron. It was sumptuous. This was followed by Peking duck on blini with cucumber, hoisin and a few other bits and pieces topped off with a wonderful crispy piece of duck skin. It looked. A classy canapé.

Aperitif wine. Staying with the Hunter Valley theme, our Winemaster had sourced from Bruce, the Tyrrells HVD Semillon 2013. At 5 years of age under screwcap it was as fresh as a daisy with crisp acidity which had obviously softened just a little to make the wine drinking well now and with a medium-term future.

Main Course. Hand making 60 duck pie for a lunch is not for the fainthearted. Gary never baulks at doing something different in his own style and in his own time. Gary had used the meat of 12 deboned Peking ducks with some pumpkin and pate and hand wrapped each in the pastry. Going to our web page to look at the photograph to the duck would be worthwhile. The ducks were served with a sauce of soy, hoisin and fennel with an interesting salad and asparagus. The salad had some sweetness for the duck. The fact that all the plates went back to the kitchen empty says it all. Well done

The Wines. Bruce Tyrrell had badgered a number of wine makers in the Hunter to provide us with a selection of the best wines of the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show. There were 11 wines in all and you can view a photograph of the listing of wines on the website under Recent Functions, no password required.

The five 2018 Semillons from 2018 were as a group surprisingly soft and drinkable and confirms somewhat of a style change over the past half-decade or so. The six Shiraz from the 2017 vintage varied significantly with one wine, Mount Pleasant Old Hill 1880 Vines Shiraz, at $135, showed massive oak and a most un-Hunter style.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane filling in for James Healey as Cheesemaster gave us a will Studd El Esparto Manchego. This sheep’s cheese from La Mancha is easily identifiable by its tyre tread like skin and the example we had today was well aged and some thought a little on the dry side.

Coffee by Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a favourite of mine.

The combination of Gary in the kitchen and Bruce supplying wines was a combination that worked to a tee. Thank you to both for an extraordinarily enjoyable lunch.

23 October 2018 - CoTD David Madson

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David Madson was in the kitchen this week assisted by Peter Fitzpatrick and James Tinslay on canapés.

Canapés. Speaking of canapés, we started with three today. In no particular order, the first was a mixture of butter, pumpkin and herbs topped with pancetta on a dried bread base. Creamy and tasty. The next was another spreadable style on a dried bread base and crackers (for some variation) of cream cheese, mayonnaise, prawns and various herbs and the like, such as dill. Slightly runny and again a very rich flavour that worked well with the aperitif wine. Finally, a simple canapé of pan-fried halloumi topped with chorizo, the latter lacking a little heat to make it more interesting.

Aperitif wine. Besides the usual suspects of our much-loved Sherry, the aperitif wine was a Girardin Chardonnay, an entry-level white Burgundy from 2012. It had all the attributes of an excellent aperitif wine with no wood evident, crisp acid with a fruit driven finish. Comments on this were very positive.

Main Course. Serving curry at the Society is generally fraught with dangers of the heat/spice and wine matching. Today was no different. The butter chicken recipe David used today was classic with a wide range and variety of spices. Contrary to some comments, there was no chilli used in the recipe. However, there was chilli as an accompaniment on the side that some may have mistaken as part of the rich and buttery sauce accompanying the chicken. The chicken were whole thighs with bone in and skin on which had been browned before being cooked in the curry sauce. A very comforting meal served with salsa, cucumber and chopped green chilli, the latter being not so benign if you managed to get it mixed with the sauce. Chilli lovers would not have even noticed the green chilli but for some of us with a low heat threshold, we did. An excellent main.

The Wines.

  • Marina Coppi Barbera (cork, 14.5%)
  • Medhurst Pinot Noir 2010 (screw cap, 12.8%)
  • Dom. Roux Rully Clos des Mollepierres Chardonnay 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • Vasse Felix Filius Cab Merlot 2013 (screw cap, 14.5%)

This is not the first time in recent lunches where the issue of wine matching with food-based spice or heat has come to the fore. Not a bad thing. It becomes obvious however that assuming a curry is generic leads to problems. Suffice to say conversation was lively around the matching of the with the complication of chilli being dragged, literally, into the curry.

The Barbera had the softness and body to be the best match with the butter chicken. Mind you, the Midhurst Pinot Noir at 8 years of age was also in good condition and whilst not tasting particularly like Pinot, many thought this was the match to beat. Personally, I preferred the Barbera.

With the excellent cheese there was one clear winner and that was the Rully white Burgundy. At 5 years of age it had a mature richness and fine acid cleanliness that arguably made it the wine of the day. Sadly, the Vasse Felix entry-level Cabernet Merlot failed to set any pulses racing. It was just a little boring and bland.

Cheese and coffee. The cheese selected by James Healey today was a d’Affinois from Guilloteau from the Rhone-Alpes. It was as expected, in great condition. Silky in the mouth followed by a creamy finish. The cheese was served with mixed nuts and dried fruit.

Spencer Ferrier provided us with a Colombian coffee today with the moniker, Inza. It had a sharp finish with a good breath of flavour across the palate.

During the last week the Society lost one of its members, Ross Porter, and he was farewelled with the traditional toast of green chartreuse.

 

16 October - CoTD John Rourke

 

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Thanks to James Hill for this lunch review

Long-time member, Past President and former Chef of the Year, John Rourke, was in the kitchen today presenting some great spring fare.

Canapés. John had made a pork, chicken and pistachio terrine a week ago with his own special herb and spice mixture complimented by the cornichons and reconstituted apricot and orange. Full of flavour.

Aperitif. Our aperitif wine was 'Red Robin' Clare Valley Riesling from 2011 under stelvin at 11.2%, a gold medal wine in the Sydney Show some years ago it was remembered by members as good example of Clare valley Riesling. Today it was still showing lime and lemon acidity with aged characteristics and a hint of petroleum in the nose.

Our sherry today was Gonzalez Byass Amontillado and a Fino, and both wines went well the terrine.

Main Course. John served us Cowra lamb shoulders which have been taken off the bone, rolled with a herb (mint dominant) and spice marinade and sous vide cooked at 56 C for five hours, before being oven finished. It looked great on the plate and better on the palate although there was some table variation on doneness.  It was served with duxelles of mushroom made with onion and butter cooked over a low heat. John added walnut and pine nuts for texture. Some 'cocktail' potatoes, a leaf of witlof with braised red pepper (which added some bitterness) provided a good balance to the meal. The lamb was topped with flowering spring rosemary and a jus made from lamb juice, veal stock and red currant jelly.

A great meal that members commented was of restaurant quality.

Wines.

  • Burton Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra 2004 (cork, 13.5%)
  • Richmond Grove Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra (magnum) 2001 (cork, 13.5%)
  • Laurent Combier Croze-Hermitage 2012 (cork, 12.5%)
  • Tyrrell Old Patch Shiraz 2007 (stelvin, 13.5%)

With the main we enjoyed the Cabernets, a serendipitous match to lamb.

Both very good examples of Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra. The room was divided as to best match, but all agreed both very good wines showing tannin fruit and acid.

With cheese both wines were perfect examples of Shiraz, both new drinking very well on the day. The Crozes-Hermitage had an unmistakable Rhone Valley wine bouquet and palate and the Tyrrell’s was still young with fine tannins and acid. John generously donated the Shiraz in celebration of his birthday on 17 October.

Both a great match for the cheese.

Cheese and coffee.  Our Cheese Master, James Healey, presented the cheese and it was a chèvre from the Pyrenees, pasteurised goats milk a semi-hard Tomme made from hand ladled curd. A creamy texture perfectly complemented by accompanying walnut and honey.

Spencer, in attendance, presented a blend of coffee from El Salvador and New Guinea Pearl. To quote Spencer ' a reasonable coffee quite acceptable on the day”.

Happy birthday John.

9 October 2018 - CoTD Paul Ferman

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Special thanks to James Hill for the lunch review this week.

Winemaster, Paul Ferman, was in the kitchen this week.

Canapés. If there is one thing that is a certainty with Paul is that will have soup and terrine. So, Paul served us a vegetable soup of spinach and lettuce with a potato base and chicken stock. It was topped with cream, herbs and chopped bacon. It looked a treat and tasted just as good.          

Next, we had one of Paul’s favourite dishes, a Raymond Blanc terrine made from three cuts of pork, chicken liver and a range of herbs. Paul had made this ten days ago, so the flavour had integrated beautifully. It was served on Iggy’s baguettes. Delicious!

Aperitif wine. Astobiza Txakoli 2016, a Northern Spanish white blend under stelvin (12.5%) started us off. This had a mixed reception when served some weeks ago however today much appreciated it was floral and textural with a good acid balance that complemented the canapés. The obligatory Sherry was Tio Pepe Fino en Rama NV under cork at 15%.

Main Course. Paul served us braised kangaroo which was mainly the tastier part of the shoulder and Ioin with some browned chicken and bacon fat added to add taste.

It was braised with carrots, eshallots and chestnuts served on a bed of a very flavoursome polenta made up of buckwheat and maize that was cooked with cheese and chicken stock. It was served with crisp green beans. A great meal.

The Wines.

  • Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2004 (stelvin,14.5%)
  • La Grola Allegrini a red Italian blend 80% Corvina Verona 2010 (cork)
  • Alvaro Castro (Dao) red blend of Touriga Nacional/Alfrocheiro/Tinta Roriz Portugal 2009 (cork, 13%)
  • J Mayer Riesling Germany 2016 Kabinett trocken (vin lock (glass stopper) 12%)                                              

With the main we enjoyed the Elderton Shiraz a typical Barossa Shiraz fruit evident somewhat jammy still with acid showing. The first vintage under stelvin.

The Italian wine was preferred a 'food' wine savoury with sour notes and a hint blackberries and currants, it was rich and elegant.

With cheese Alvaro Castro (Dao) full bodied spicy with black cherry fruit evident.

The Mayer Riesling came straight from the fridge, so the residual sugar was masked by the cool temperature and the acid a highlight. Once in the glass apple and pear aromas came to the fore.

Both good matches for the cheese.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey presented the cheese this week and it was a cracker with most comments suggesting it origins were Italian or French. How wrong we were. It was a Berry's Creek Tarwin Blue cow’s milk from Gippsland. Straw coloured with a creamy texture and a long intense finish on the palate.

James always make sure that the cheese is removed from refrigeration hours before serving so that we get it at the correct room temperature. It was unwrapped when we arrived for lunch and displayed an ammoniated crust none of which was evident when eaten. Iggy’s bread was perfect with this cheese.

Paul accompaniments for the cheese were pecan and walnuts, muscatel naturally dried grapes and a salad of cos lettuce pear and chives.

Spencer, in attendance, presented a coffee from Costa Rica Arabica a good balance of tannin and acid with style and finesse one of the better coffees.

Paul generously donated various bottles of aged port to finish off a superb lunch.

 

2 October 2018 - CoTD Spencer Ferrier

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Spencer Ferrier was the Chef of the Day this week for our mixed lunch with support from the Ferrier family and Bill Alexiou-Hucker assembling canapés. I will try to avoid lawyer jokes.

Canapés. We started off with gazpacho and whilst I missed this, reports were excellent. Next up was pate served on some interesting dried ciabatta in the form of a dry biscuit. There was some heat in the pate or from the jelly which spiced up the offering.

Aperitif wine. A range of different wines started the day. The Keith Tulloch Semillon 2010 I found to be in excellent condition with clean acid with yet little development. Canapé wines at 11% alcohol are always welcome. For those inclined there was the Aubert Rose NV Champagne, an entry-level Champagne that we have used previously. There were a couple of odd bottles of red and also some Soumah Chardonnay which was also served with the main course.

Main Course. The main course came out looking stunning with the puff pastry just right topping off the seafood “pie”. Spencer had used blue-eye trevalla and scallops as the seafood base for the sauce with the addition of cream, leaks, et cetera. To spice it up a bit, chilli had been added. The recipe was an old Johnnie Walker favourite varied to provide more of the flavour that Spencer considered more prevalent these days. The pie was full of flavour and was accompanied by a side salad.

The Wines.

  • Soumah Chardonnay 2013 (screw cap, 12.7%)
  • Meyer-Fonne Riesling (Alsace) 2013 (cork, 12%)
  • Salomon Syrah Viognier 2010 (glass seal, 14.5%)
  • Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2009 (cork, 13.5%)

The Chardonnay and Riesling with the main provided the contrast that the Winemaster was after to let us punters pick our favourite match. Speaking of matches the Soumah Chardonnay had plenty of match struck characteristic, a sulphurish characteristic which I personally don’t like but others do. It was pleasing to see the Chardonnay was less than 13% and it did have some funky overtones that made it an interesting wine. I thought the Alsace Riesling was a better match for the seafood with some spice and mineral overtones.

The two reds could almost be referred to as beauty and the beast, although that would be a little unfair to the Fleurie Peninsular wine from Salomon. It was certainly a sturdy wine but not overblown. Whilst the Viognier a component was only some 4% I’m not convinced that (with a couple of exceptions) this blend has hit its straps in Australia as opposed to its home in Northern Rhône. The Chianti was a beauty. A good label not top of the tree, always engaging and enjoyable. At 9 years of age it had reached its best and useful current drinking. Medium bodied, elegant and balanced.

Dessert. Having dessert at a Society lunch is the exception to the rule. Spencer had made three large apple pies which looked and tasted wonderful. These were served in the centre of the room so that those who desired this sweet end to the meal could help themselves. Well done. Spencer. Our Winemaster managed to conjure up some Sauterne to go with the apple pie.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey had us tethered to Australia this week with a Heidi Gruyere from Tasmania. A mature and robust cheese, it was very reminiscent of its Swiss style counterparts. I would have mistaken this for a Swiss cheese. It was served with a selection of sultanas and walnuts.

Spencer treated us to his favourite coffee, Kenya AA. This Kenya AA was one of the best I can remember with its richer style, perfect balance and smoothness. The dosing was obviously just right. Spencer also served some Iranian tea for those who are not particularly partial to coffee.

OK, I lied in the opening paragraph.

What does a lawyer get when you give him Viagra?

Taller.

A very good mixed lunch with over 40 in attendance who enjoyed the range of tasty offerings from Spencer and family.

25 September 2018 Wine Lunch Nick Reynolds

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For the September wine lunch, Nick Reynolds was in the kitchen. Whilst it was a wine lunch, wine and the food pairing attracted equal attention. That is normally not the deal and whilst it is no bad thing, did attract a couple of comments. Some 46 members braved a beautiful Sydney day to attend.

Canapés. Two canapés from Nick today, the first being Liptauer (Czechoslovakian cheese dip with cream cheese, cottage cheese, paprika, capers, mustard, caraway seed) served with chives on a gluten free seed cracker. It was nothing like the Lipitor some of us need after Tuesday lunch. These were very elegant looking starters and I can’t vouch for a taste as the plates eluded me on the day. The second starter was Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar mushrooms pintxos. This nibble on a stick was a joy, simple and tasty. The richness of the PX was the key. On first glance, many thought it was liver.

Aperitif wine. Besides the excellent Tio Pepe En Rama Fino Sherry, we were served two very contrasting wines. The first from Duval was the Plexus MRV comprising a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. This was the 2016 wine. Despite those interesting varieties and John Duval’s prodigious winemaking expertise, the wine, most thought, a little bland. Next up in a repeat showing from one month ago was the Tunkalilla Riesling 2008 from Willamette Valley in Oregon. The latter vineyard is owned by well-known Australian winemaker Brian Croser which he planted in 2005 with 2008 being the first vintage. At about 9 g/L sugar it once again made noses turn up with most not appreciating an almost off-dry wine with aperitif type food. On this occasion, there were no faulty corks and a number of us did enjoy the style.

Main Course. Normally the Chef of the Day on a wine lunch day looks for simplicity and ease. Not Nick. To quote from Nick’s notes, the main was double cooked blue cheese souffle with Roquefort sauce served with a salad of baby spinach, kumera, feta cheese, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, eschallots and red capsicum with a white balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. There was nothing easy about the souffle.

It was wonderfully fluffy and light with the Roquefort cheese not overpowering the taste in any way. The second cooking of the soufflé was done on a base of cream which apparently seeps its way up through the soufflé. It was a wonderful dish. Equally interesting was the simple and very tasty salad served as an accompaniment.

The Wines.

  • Bernard Bremont Champagne NV (12%)
  • Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 2007 (screw cap, 14%)
  • Vincent Girardin Saint-Aubin 1er 2012 (cork, 13.5%)
  • By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir 2012 (cork, 13.5%)
  • Cheron Chambolle-Musigny Clos de L’Orme 2012 (cork, 13%)
  • Tyrrells 4 Acres Shiraz 2006 (screw cap, 12.4%)

Paul Ferman was back after missing a few wine lunches whilst travelling, and explained the mixture of wines on the day, especially the Champagne which is what the French typically have with soufflé.

Dealing with the three whites first, the champagne was fresh, very clean and more importantly, interesting. The Vat 47 at 12 years of age had austere fruit with a noticeable oak influence. Sadly, it had that “struck match” sulphur overtone that mars many Australian Chardonnays, but it did blow off. Under screwcap, this wine has a good future. The Premier Cru Burgundy from Giradin was very rich and very fruit driven. Its rich and creamy Burgundian character tended to overpower the acid levels, but it was clean and eminently enjoyable.

To the reds, the By Farr Farrside was a rich Australian Pinot with no shortage of colour. It was powerful, and the maker had done a good job to avoid overly sweet fruit characteristics which overpowers many Australian Pinot Noirs. Strawberries were evident, sans needles, on the nose. The 2012 Cheron Chambolle-Musigny of the same year was very elegant but appeared a little closed and dumb. It began to open up after a time and showed good tannin structure and one suspects that the next day, it would have been better still having been left in a decanter. The final wine, the Tyrrells 4 Acres 2006 was light and elegant and only 12.4% alcohol. In fact, it was surprisingly light for someone not overly familiar with that particular label. It seemed to hark back to an earlier era in the Hunter.

Cheese and coffee. This week, James Healey had gone to an Italian producer for Perenzin Formajo Ciock al Vino Rosso. This cheese from Veneto was cow’s milk from the Perezin family who had been making cheese for four generations. The fermenting cheese spends about 10 days in red grape must which imparts a mildly spicy wine like flavour to this semi-hard cheese. Grape skins are retained on the rind creating a striking visual element. The cheese was served with nuts.

The coffee today by Spencer Ferrier was a Kenya AA peaberry, which showed a strong astringency and a lack a sweetness. We have enjoyed Kenya AA on many occasions, but this, at least in our table, was not up to previous tastings.

In summing up his meal today, Nick said that he thought this might be the first time the Society had enjoyed a full vegetarian lunch and he was not contradicted on the day. Nick could not resist quoting Paul Keating pointing out that his pronouncement that a “soufflé doesn't rise twice”, was clearly incorrect! I think I heard a groan or two!

An excellent lunch on both the food side and the wine side.

Members can be assured we shall return to meat soon.

18 September 2018 CoTD James Hill

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We have a member who can’t stay out of the kitchen and we once again saw James Hill plastering over an unseen eventuality by cooking for us. James was assisted by Gary Linnane.

Canapés. The starters today were tasty and stunning. We were treated to three, the first being a prawn bisque with curry leaves, the next prawn and coconut served on a tasting spoon and the final being onion bhaji. All three were excellent with James calling in a favour from Milan at Brick Lane to produce the onion bhaji. Recycling the prawn heads from the prawn dish made a sumptuous bisque which had a beautiful curry leaf flavour. Not enough is said on the day about our starters, these deserved much praise.

Aperitif wine. Paul Ferman was back in the educational role which saw us have a Spanish wine from the Basque region, Astobiza Txakoli 2016. This is a Spanish specialty and is a blend of a number of grape varieties largely unknown to us Australians and is intended to be a high acid aperitif wine to go with the seafood. To me it was a perfect match but to those who are more comfortable with Riesling and Chardonnay it did produce somewhat of a challenge. This low alcohol, crisp fresh wine fulfilled the role as intended.

Main Course. James decided to hit us with a curry today and hit us he did. Some of us don’t handle heat particularly well and it was a little bit of a challenge but that is not the end of the story.

This was a wonderfully inventive meal and the service plate was chicken kurumnlagu, roast kerala chicken flavoured with pepper dhal red kidney, mung bean, channa dal and black lentil cooked in garam masala garlic and fenugreek with broccolini basmati and rice. Next, we come onto the sides which had a role in breaking down the heat. These were yoghurt with cucumber, banana and coconut and kachumber salad (onion, tomato, cucumber, coriander and chaat masala and lemon).

The attention to detail was clearly obvious as well as the preparation time that must gone into preparing this dish at short notice.

The Wines.

  • Sebastien Brunet Vouvray 2014 (cork, 12.5%)
  • Chateau de Pizay Morgon 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • Chateau Guiranne Cotes de Provence Rose 2016 (cork, 12%)
  • Bowen Cabernet 2005 (cork, 15%)

In discussions between Paul and James, the message became confused as James had requested a rich Shiraz to go with the curry. Never mind, we had a Vouvray and a Provence Rose. Responses were mixed but as time went on the Vouvray became the better match of the two wines as it opened up and showed the beautiful characteristics of Chenin Blanc. The Rose was bone dry with some spice but did not really shoot out the lights.

With cheese, the Beaujolais and Bowen were a distinct contrast. The Morgon Beaujolais, which we have had previously, had undergone somewhat of a transformation and become simple and boring. It has been better in the past. The Bowen at 15% attracted some comment about the alcohol and sweetness on the palate. There was a little bottle variation under this wine with cork. 15% is not unusual for sweet Australian wines but this had the impact of a wine that may have had more than 15% alcohol. Heaven forbid that a wine may label may mislead us about alcohol content.

Cheese and coffee. The cheese today came in a 4 kg round and was pasteurised goats’ milk, Caprinelle Tomme de Chevre. This originated in the Pyrenees close to the Spanish border and was a semi-hard and dense fromage with a sharp aroma of goat’s milk. The nuttiness was wonderful, and this was served with Iggy’s bread and cashew nuts. A wonderful choice by James Healey.

The coffee was Colombian, and Spencer was present to speak to it. He explained that the beans were very, very fresh and he travelled around the room stirring the lees of the coffee to ensure that the oxygen bubbles were dissipated so that the coffee grounds could do their job and not lurk near the filter of the French press. An interesting explanation and one most of this did not previously understand about ultra-fresh beans.

Paul Ferman thanked Tony Scott for a generous contribution of wine some months ago which included the Rose we enjoyed today.

James Hill went into some detail about the meal that he had planned and delivered over a short period of time.

Given so many members are away in this travel season, the numbers were excellent and atmosphere vibrant.