James Hill, with help from Gary Linnane, led the charge back to the kitchen for the drought-breaking 1st lunch of 2014. The extent of the drought was indicated by an attendance of over 50 members and guests.

Canapes, under the hand of Gary, were a tasty and tangy blend of roast duck pieces with lychees in a sweet/sour sauce in spoons. The canapés were just the thing for some mature Richmond Grove Riesling from 1999. Bottled under cork, there was inevitable variation, but most were gold, soft but still fresh, with minimal kerosene characters.

The light Asian theme continued with the main course of salmon fillets , marinated in a dressing of sundry herbs and spices, cooked with coconut and brought to the table wrapped in a banana leaf with a sweet ‘n ‘tasty pineapple relish and jasmine rice with lime zest shreds scattered through. The banana leaves seemed to impart a slightly tart flavour to the fish which matched well with the richness of the coconut and the spice of the marinade. With it a 2011 Salomon gruner-veltliner from Austria, dry with good fruit but still overwhelmed with acid, and some sulphur evident. Also a 2010 pinot from Port Philip Estate in Victoria, a forward berry-dominant wine at its best now but not out of place with the flavours on the plate.

The cheese saw a top Aussie chevre in the (round) shape of the Holy Goat La Luna from Victoria. It was in top condition with its distinctive “bubble” rind showing a touch of aromatics but not so as to spoil an excellent cheese. It was well matched by a 1998 Steingarten Riesling, long-lived and still developing in a fuller style, but not so much by a 2004 Rufus Stone Heathcote shiraz, with 15% alcohol, a well-made and stylish wine but dominant over the cheese, and, for that matter, over an unusual salad made on cucumber, crushed roasted macadamias and ( a bit of) chili, dressed with a mix based on lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.

Coffee was a medium roast Mountain Blue bean from New Guinea, rich in flavour with some acidity to give length. This is the start of a world tour of top coffee-growing regions by leader Spencer Ferrier, and if the standard is maintained, we have nothing to complain about.