Lunch 23 September 2014
Members and guests assembled for Graham Fear's 3rd rendition of his fish pie, and were not disappointed. Assisted again by friend Keith Tanaka, and by Steve Liebeskind, it just keeps getting better.
But first, let's talk about the canapes, setting a new high standard. There were finely just done scallops with a piece of morcilla, or black pudding, with chopped iceberg lettuce under, served on spoons; lovely white anchovies with red and yellow capsicum strips and mayo with a hint of chili on crostini; and crisp and crunchy spring rolls, loaded with barramundi, hollandaise and chopped shallot before being deep fried. All were good, different and very moreish. The aperitif wine, 1998 Tyrrells Stevens semillon under cork, showed inevitable bottle variation, but most was fresh, with toasty notes starting to develop. There was also a Lustau Amontillado, predictably rich and nutty.
In a labour of love, Graham had cooked individual pies in ramekins, with a pastry lid. Underneath, monkfish pieces and prawns swam in a rich cream sauce thickened with arrowroot and specked with parsley and blanched shallots. Smooth, fishy and satisfying, there was a bit of glug in the underside of the pastry, but who was complaining. There were also some nicely diced potatoes fried in duck fat served on the side, for those who had not OD'd on the canapes and the pie.
The accompanying wines were, controversially, both red shiraz at Graham's request. Both from 2007, there was a Cliff Edge from Langi Ghiran in Victoria and a Wynns Coonawarra. Both good wines, the Cliff Edge got the vote as the better match with the food, showing softer cool climate tannins with quality fruit.
The cheese continued the quality: a non-pasteurised Comte cows' milk number from the Jura in France, produced in large wheels and showing rich long caramel-like sweetness with nuts in as well. A good green salad with sliced pears had the tangy note of some wasabi mayo to lift it; while Clonakilla Hilltops shiraz and The Yard Frankland River shiraz, both 2010, showed young and still developing qualities, the Clonakilla drinking better at this stage.
And to finish, there was coffee made with medium roast Ethiopian Harrar beans, from the source of modern coffee, with a dry, vinous character which lingered on the back palate.