This time around, it was Bruce Thomas flying solo in the kitchen to land a great re-enactment of last year’s duck breast, with suitable homage to his deceased namesake. Before that, however, Bruce got us in the mood, after lengthy pre-lunch drinks following the early conclusion of the AGM, with some top home-made duck and chicken liver pate, rich, smooth and with a pleasant tang of orange citrus on crunchy toasts, and a repetition of Bruce’s signature gravlax, lightly cured salmon marinated in beetroot, finely sliced and again on toasts.The aperitif wines, lasting over an hour, were inevitably a mixed bag, featuring a 1998 Watervale riesling from Richmond Grove with the expected bottle variation, a choice of 2 Lustau sherries and a few odds and sods.

Bruce got his breasts pre-packaged from Luvaduck and this may have been the source of the apparent variation, with some finding theirs overdone and chewy, whilst others had no complaint. All were well handled, however, with the fat nicely rendered off and the breasts allowed to rest, although there were portion problems with around 48 in attendance. Even those dissatisfied with the meat were impressed with the intense sauce which accompanied the duck, made on duck and chicken carcasses with much added, including orange juice and zest, to yield a great jus, maybe a little sweet but who cares? Also on the plate were a nicely presented disc of polenta under a dab of pureed kumera and some green beans; a visual treat as well. The accompanying wines were from France but not Burgundy, being a workmanlike 2009 Guigal Cotes du Rhone, and a better, but still disappointing, 2007 Les Seizes Galets Crozes-Hermitage.

The Italian influence of Bruce’s meal extended into the cheese, a Taleggio washed rind from Lombardy in Italy. Perhaps a bit blander than other examples of the variety we have seen, it was nevertheless in top condition; maybe it was a bit young. With a safe salad of mixed leafs and a light dressing, were served a couple of Aussie big and bolds in contrast to the rather thin French wines: a 1998 Wynns Coonawarra shiraz and a fruit salad of red grapes from Potts at Bleasdale, also 1998. Different styles, the Wynns smooth and still showing distinct fruit, the Potts more astringent with a slight volatility but good clean acid on the finish.

Coffee was from Honduras, a medium roast bean with good but somewhat commercial flavours, pleasant but forgettable. Not so a 2005 Taylors vintage port, presented in half bottles and still very young and sweet but a lot to look forward to.

All this was preceded by the Annual General Meeting of the Society, at which the following Committee was elected:
President – Greg Chugg

Vice-President – Keith Steele

Secretary – Hilton Chapman

Treasurer – Mike Staniland

Foodmaster – Nick Reynolds

Cellarmaster – Paul Ferman

Cheesemaster – Ross Macdonald

Wine Recorder – John Rourke

Publicity Officer – Peter Kelso

Research & Education – James Hill

Membership Recorder – John Edwards

Admin Officer – Gary Patterson

General Committee – Nigel Burton and Greg Sproule