Lunch 3 June 2014
The 1st lunch of winter saw the return to the kitchen of the maestro, Ted Davis, with the faithful Gareth Evans in support. On a beautiful day, it was fowl on the plate, starting with some Davis duck rillettes, moist and flavoursome on small sourdough bread rounds and a sweet and succulent pate, made from the livers of the same bird, with plenty of brandy and orange juice to kick it along and similarly served. The aperitif wines were a 2009 Ocean 8 Verve chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsular, fresh with light fruit against the fat of the entrees, a 2010 Swinging Bridge cabernet from Orange with cool climate characters which stood up to the food well, and the Lustau amontillado, big, nutty and a joy to drink.
The birds were downsized for the main course, boned quails stuffed with a forcemeat of pork, breadcrumbs and 4-spice mix, with a (shelled) quail egg buried in there too. The birds were roasted well after being basted with truffled butter, and served on a bed of pureed cauliflower and kohlrabi with an intense madeira sauce made on the quail bones with added chicken necks and sundry herbs. It was a deceptively simple meal of quality and we hope Ted can be coaxed out of retirement at least one more time. The accompanying wines were a 2009 Marlborough pinot from Wairau River, sweet and simple but quite good with the food; and a 2000 Willow Bridge shiraz from Geographe in WA, big with hot fruit and 14.5% alcohol, but coming into balance after 14 years, although it tended to overpower the food.
Nostalgia reigned with the cheese and salad: a perfect dolce latte gorgonzola, sometimes referred to as the Society cheese, and a salad of good ol' iceberg lettuce dressed generously with olive oil and a big hit of vinegar. The wines were a bit more up to date, featuring an unlabelled wine which turned out to be the 2007 Rosemount Balmoral shiraz rich and soft in tannins although needing more time to integrate. Also on the table was the 1998 Wynns black label Coonawarra cabernet, showing typical cassis notes but a little extracted, mature and current drinking.
The coffee was an El Vulcan bean from Guatemala showing a full, slightly bitter mouthfeel but short on the finish.