Calendar Year 2013
All good things must end, but 2013 went out in the best way, with a crowd of around 60 attending the final lunch.
Paul Dressler, assisted by John Rourke, was in the kitchen, and some French-influenced food resulted. First, a smooth and tasty duck rillettes paste on mini toasts topped by a piece of cornichon and, for the lucky few, a taste of caviar de mer, or monkfish roe, with intense fishy flavour. With these offerings, the usual smorgasbord of aperitifs, covering a variety of whites, a Manzanilla sherry, a few bottles of red, and even a red wine punch which delivered one. The main course was a soupe de poisson (not to be confused with bouillaibaise), made on an imported stock from France embellished with a heap of fennel and lifted with scallops, prawns and chunks of monkfish or stargazer. A rouille served with it was suitably unctuous, though some craved more chili. Terrific texture and flavour with the seafood perfectly cooked; ideal for a warm end to the year. And with it, a choice of a rose from Triennes in Provence, and a 2003 Tyrrells Vat 47 chardonnay. The rose was typically pale salmon and soft with a bit of residual sugar which matched the robust fish flavours of the soup quite well. Far superior in quality and flavour was the Vat 47, fine intense passionfruit characters with years to go. Better enjoyed on its own than with the food.
We stayed in France with a wonderful Beaufort cheese form the Haute-Savoie region supplied by James Healey, mid-hard in texture with a strong sweet hay flavour which delighted and accompanied a mixed bitter green salad with a tangy vinaigrette. Also present were a 2008 Vasse Felix cabernet from WA, and a Santa gift, the 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. The younger wine had nice if subdued fruit, probably needing more time but good with the cheese. The 389, from a top year, met a mixed reception with some loving it but others finding it a bit too hot and tarry: all that superb earlier fruit going a bit flat.
Presentations were made by the President to the long-suffering kitchen and wait staff, after which Peter Squires spoke movingly in celebration of the life of the late John McGuire, active member and supporter of the Society since 1996, before the traditional green chartreuse toast to John's memory. A reflective end to 2013, but life, and the Society, will go on in 2014.