24 May 2022 CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker
17 May 2022 CoTD Bernard Leung
Food review review by James Hill and wine review by Nick Reynolds
Bernard Leung was in the kitchen today assisted by member Allen Langridge both younger members of our Society. The last time Bernard cooked he was a first-time chef of the day and was nominated as a Chef of The Year Contender.
Gauging by comments on today’s lunch presentation we’ll see him preparing the dish in next year's cook-off!
Today’s lunch had a Spanish theme and we started with a flavourful and textural gazpacho. It was made from de-seeded tomatoes, peeled cucumber, and capsicum with some red onion and a clove of raw garlic for some bite. Tablespoons of olive oil, sherry vinegar were added then ground cumin and blitzed in a blender along with a thick slice of soaked bread for a fuller thicker consistency. It was topped with some bread sippets and red, green and yellow peppers.
It looked good and tasted good.
Next served were some perfectly made - Serrano ham croquettes.
These consisted of Serrano ham diced into 5mm cubes, with béchamel sauce seasoned with nutmeg and grated Parmesan cheese. It was then rolled in egg and bread crumbs allowed to cool and then deep-fried.
They were served on top of aioli which secured them on the plate.
They were perfect.
In a Society first, a bottle of canapé wine was left undrunk at the aperitif wine table … dark days indeed.
Our main course was quail with couscous and harissa sauce.
Tunnel boned quail marinated overnight in cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic salt and pepper. Then pan-fried to brown the outside, before finishing in the oven. This was served on a bed of couscous made with vegetable stock, mixed with diced and de-seeded tomatoes cucumbers, chopped parsley and mint and finished with lemon juice and olive oil. The harissa sauce is roasted tomatoes, roasted capsicum, blitzed with sherry vinegar, olive oil and seasoned. Extra bowls of sauce were served to our tables for those that liked a little more spice.
It looked like the sauce may be too overpowering to be able to taste the quail but this was not the case …it was perfectly cooked.. moist and flavourful.
There were some comments as to the texture of the couscous however the main comment was that everyone wanted another serve!
Well done Bernard.
Today's cheese presented by Gary Linnane was Latteria Perenzin Di Capra In Foglia Di Noce, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese from Italy.
This pure goat’s milk cheese is made in the Valle del Piave in the province of Belluno. When young, the wheels are wrapped in leaves from local walnut trees which impart a delicate herbaceous character to the cheese as it matures.
One of the best things about lunches at the Wine and Food Society of NSW is the ability to experience different expressions of classic grapes. Today we experienced this in at least two of our flights.
Chilly presented us with two Rieslings to accompany the canapés. Although both were made in 2017, they were obviously made with different aims, which was apparent from how they presented today. The first was an Isolation Ridge from Frankland Estate. This was a typical Riesling with clean lemon/lime flavours and a nice straight acid line. It had pure Australian Riesling flavour and was a great accompaniment to the food. The second Riesling was a Peglidis Vineyard Watervale Riesling from Wine by KT. Certified organic and having a focus on natural farming, this wine showed some petillance and a more textural feel than the first Riesling. The winemaker states on her website that she intends to produce wines with drinkability and personality. She certainly achieved her aim with this wine; however, the demonstrated personality is perhaps not an ideal match for Riesling traditionalists.
With the main, we moved on to two Australian Pinot Noirs to accompany the main course. Interestingly, these also provided a contrast in flavour that highlighted differing winemaking approaches. The first was a 2016 Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula. The wine presented with clean linear fruit, while the 20% new oak was more apparent on the nose than on the palate. The wine was light, perfumed, red-fruited, and ready to drink. The second Pinot was a year older and from the well-regarded Curly Flat Winery in the Macedon Ranges. With 10% whole bunch, indigenous yeast fermentation, and 100 % French oak maturation (almost a third new), this wine had a lot more structure from winemaking supporting the fruit than the other Pinot. This was apparent in the tannin structure on the palate and black rather than red cherry dominating this savoury wine.
The very tasty cheese was accompanied by two bottles of Shiraz, both from winemakers based in Hunter Valley, albeit with a different philosophy. The first was a Bin 1003 Shiraz from Lindemans. A limited release Bin, this was a treat, being an elegant wine still with good fruit and great balance. It was appreciated in the room. The second wine was a Thomas Wines Kiss Shiraz, again from 2010. This wine was perhaps more overtly fruited than the Lindemans wine but it was also accompanied by secondary characteristics indicating that the winemaker was pursuing a direction away from more austere, traditional, winemaking. Despite the higher fruit concentration, it was interesting that the wine showed more green tannins, adding a savoury edge to an amped-up wine.
10 May 2022 CoTD Gary Patterson
Lunch review by Stephen O'Halloran
Tuesday 10 May delivered to the happy campers of the WFS an excellent afternoon. Most enjoyable, let’s keep up the good work.
Gary Patterson was our chef today and he along with Peter Karr produced a fine lunch. To begin with, we had some Greek-style pastry envelopes filled with various cheeses, fetta and parmesan. Unfortunately, they were left in the oven too long, resulting in most of them being burnt and dried out. A pity. The next pass around was another Greek-inspired creation Spanakopita, flaky puff pastry filled with Spinach, egg and fetta with a dusting of nutmeg. Delicious. Very well received.
For the main we enjoyed a pork fillet with a red currant style sauce, cooked to perfection and served with baby spinach, corn and walnut in lime juice, some beautiful florets of cauliflower fried in panko crumbs with egg sitting atop pureed cauliflower and topped off with a sliver of red pepper. Visually excellent and tasted just as good. The sole negative was the pork being served a little cooler than desirable. That did not detract at all from the flavour. Scrumptious!
To finish we were treated to an exciting cheese from Ireland, the famous Cashel Blue from the Tipperary region. A cow's milk cheese three months old. Just beautiful. Creamy, smooth and most flavoursome. I had it picked as a Gippsland Blue. They say it is Ireland’s answer to Stilton. For my part, I would prefer it to a Stilton which I often find is a little acrid and too sharp. A wonderful choice inspired.
We kicked off with a Pewsey Vale Riesling 2006. Glad we did. A delightful aged Riesling still with plenty of acid and fruit to carry it off the back palate. Deep straw colour, by no means oxidised, but as a 16-year-old, certainly a drink now proposition.
The second cab off the rank was a Clyde Park Bannockburn Pinot which I did not enjoy. Thin, not much flavour a rather sad wine and expensive too!
Speaking personally, I do not like drinking red wine as an aperitif. We have many wonderful aged Australian whites, I wish we would stick with them for the pre-lunch drinks. I do understand that the Cellar Master may have an agenda about making inroads into some stock which needs to be drunk. I understand the problem if in fact there is one!
The wines for the main course were terrific. A 2015 Greywacke PN from Marlborough NZ and a 2014 Shiraz By Farr from Bannockburn. Both excellent. I noted that both wines were almost identical in colour, deep and concreated. The PN illustrated the difference between PN from NZ and the local product. I have always thought that quality PN from the Shaky Isles has a very similar appearance colour-wise to Australian Shiraz. This wine had great PN taste, clean finish and lots of power to finish off. 13.5 %.
The second main course wine was the Farr 2014 Shiraz, my pick of the wines for today. Again 13.5%. Elegant yet powerful, an excellent wine. With the cheese, we were served a Chardonnay and a Dolcetto d’Alba. The Chardy was from Scorpo in Mornington 2017 and it was a blockbuster. Huge oak and fruit flavour, it came storming out of the glass full of buttery overtones, voluptuous in texture, no room here for elegance and balance here. I really liked it, although it was apparent from several other comments that my view was not universal. I felt it went very well with the cheese.
The last wine was a Dolcetto 2017 from Paolo Scavino. I understand the word Dolcetto in Italian means” sweet little one.“ There was nothing wrong with the wine, it’s just that I find this grape a little insipid. It is no doubt the Italian wines are generally food orientated, which is fine, but I felt this wine got lost between the huge Chardy and the very flavoursome cheese.
All in all, a most enjoyable few hours. Looking forward to next week already.
3 May 2022 CoTD Amosh
Food and Wine report by Stephen O’Halloran
Around the world we went yesterday, the notion perhaps stirring distant fun memories for some! I digress.
We had a terrific day yesterday, travelling from the mountains and valleys of Nepal, to the sunny pastures of the La Mancha region, south of Madrid, then onto the vineyards of the Pessac Leognan region of Graves in Bordeaux. Our tour guides were our REX Chef Amosh for the food and Tony Scott for the wines. Our collective thanks to Tony for his generosity in supplying all of the wine. An exceptional gesture.
I must have been too busy taking photos and making notes to be able to enjoy all of the canapes, only snaring one chicken dumpling. The steamed dumpling came in a seductive spicy sauce which was delicious. From the noises around me, I am sure that the Puri balls and the Bara were also excellent. The main was slow-cooked Nepalese chicken confit, a thigh with the skin on. Served with a sauce similar to the one with the dumplings. Beautiful, juicy, full of flavour, and tasted like the real chicken we grew up with. Alongside was some Pulau Nepalese Basmati rice and mixed spicy vegetables. A great combination. A most enjoyable meal thanks to Amosh.
The cheese from James Healey was up to the usual high standards we have become used to from our Cheesemaster. This time it was the legendary Manchego from the La Mancha region. A sheep milk cheese, semi-hard. It came in two servings one 3 months old, the other 12 months. Another triumph of selection by James. Great flavour, lingering aftertaste, milky and creamy delicious. I think I preferred the older version. Whenever I hear the name La Mancha, I am taken back to Jim Nabors singing the “Impossible Dream “, one of my favourites, I love the line, “to be ready to march into hell for a heavenly cause “. Quite stirring, at least for me.
Once again sincere thanks to Tony, as the Jesuits say “a man for others“. Today we were treated to some excellent French Wines from the Pessac Leognan region, In particular, some Sauvignon Blanc, for which the Graves area is renowned. We do not see a lot of these wines here, a pity as they are a revelation in showing the comparison between Graves SB and the same grape grown in NZ. Many years ago I was able to share a bottle of the famous Graves white, Chateau Carbonnieux. It made a lasting impression. Today Tony produced two straight SB and one SB/ Semillon blend. All were excellent and went so well with all of the food. I preferred the Lurton of the two aperitif wines, but overall my choice was the third wine, the Louviere. The added Semillon gave it more depth and finish. A lovely complex taste.
In all honesty, when you drink these wines and then compare them to that crushed Lantana smelling rubbish from NZ, the wine you only ever are served at any function I wonder why? Is it part of a Prisoner Exchange Programme with NZ? I do not allow NZ SB in the house. There, got that off my chest!
Finally, we were served three reds from the same region. I personally thought the reds played second fiddle to the whites. Nothing wrong with any of them, just overshadowed by the excellent whites, perhaps they were affected adversely by the spicy sauce with the main. I did however enjoy the last red, the Rochemorin from 2014. Nice lifted Bordeaux after taste and flavour. Went very well with the Cheese.
All in all, a very enjoyable lunch, consistent with our high standards of late.
26 April 2022 CoTD James Tinslay
Lunch review by Stephen O’Hallaron
Keith Steele and David Madson combined to create some delicious canapes for the near-full room. An excellent response from the membership to today’s lunch. We were treated by Keith to some prosciutto and cheese puffs with parmesan and pecorino and some very tasty prawn &and pork balls by David. Both went down with the aperitif wines, a batch of Hunter Semillons. More later.
The main was a very generous slice of sticky slow roast pork neck with Chinese spices The pork had been marinated for 24 hrs in a combination of Chinese cooking wine, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Some star anise and light soy also featured. It was slow-cooked for 3 hours and served with some nice roasted duck fat potatoes and green beans. My serving was near perfect, juicy, moist and full of flavour. Very excellent. I did however hear some faint grumbles around the table about their particular slice, such is life! We have all been there, I often get food envy, it’s part and parcel of eating out. I am aware that pork can sometimes be dry, but not this time. A lovely main thanks to James Tinslay.
James Healey produced a cheese that caused considerable debate around our table. Described as a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the mountains in Northeast Italy the Montasio arrived at our table in great condition but challenging anyone to cut thru the crust. If that is semi-hard, I tremble at the thought of attacking a hard one. However, after a struggle to get access to the core, it was well worth the effort! Delightful, well-chosen James.
Cellar Master Hargraves really opened the silk purse division of the Society’s Cellar for today’s lunch. Five excellent Barolos and one Barbaresco . Where else would you get a lineup like that! It makes investment in WFS membership a very sound decision. Consider the fact that the wines we had today command prices between $ 200 and $ 500 per bottle and you get these wines plus an excellent lunch for $90! Has to be the best deal around.
The Barolos were: 2013 Sordo, 2012 Massolino, 2010 Marcarini, 2010 Conterno Fantino and a 2008 Ceretto. The Barbaresco was a 2010 Gigi Bianco. According to my research for Piedmont 2010 was the star vintage followed by the 2008.
Looking at this bracket it was clear to me that all wines with exception of wine 5, the Conterno, were mid red brick in colour, with the Conterno much darker The Massolino and the Cerrato showed some hint of browning around the rim. All wines were quite tannic with high levels of acid. Alcohol levels were in the 14/14.5 % range. With exception of wine 6, the Ceretto, the wines had very little bouquet.
Trying to sensibly assess these fine wines between themselves is challenging. A bit like trying to pick your favourite in a Miss World contest. With some fear of strong contradiction by those present, I felt the Ceretto was the pick of the bunch, just ahead of the Conterno. The Barbaresco was in the middle and the Massolino was the last to greet the judges.
I am well aware that these wines are wonderful food wines, however sometimes I feel after my last sip that there must be something more, some more thrilling final lift on the back palate, but no, gone. But wanting more. Like a kiss from a pretty girl, but just a kiss.
I have enjoyed many fine Bordeaux wines over the years which seem to have a more satisfying mouth-filling, lingering aftertaste, leaving one fully contented, daydreaming of the Terroir, the wind and fields and soil of the Medoc.
Getting back to Australia however, the two aperitif wines we had were both excellent. Both were Lindemans, one a Bin 0755 from 2007 and the other a clean skin, but identified as another Lindemans from 2005. These years were regarded highly in the Hunter for the Semillon and Chardonnay. I can see why. Despite the fact that the wines were 15 and 17 yo they were both in terrific condition, clean, balanced full of flavour. No wonder these wines from a good year are in a class of their own.
19 April 2022 CoTD Denis Redfern
Lunch review by James Hill
The room was packed today as we welcomed back to the kitchen Team Redfern cooking our first mixed lunch of the year. It was great to see the support of our members attending this lunch and we welcomed members of the Sydney Ladies Wine and Food Society.
We began with an abundance of canapés prepared by Jennifer Darin and assisted by Trish Redfern.
Sashimi yellowfin tuna from the fish market this morning was served on spoons with soy and wasabi sauce underneath. Fresh and flavoursome, a good balance with the sauce not overpowered by the soy wasabi.
Next came a deconstructed prawn cocktail served with a Marie Rose sauce that had a spicy finish on the aftertaste. Again fresh from the market today with flavour and texture.
Something not seen at our Society as a canapé …palm hearts that had been marinated in a vinaigrette of balsamic, EVOO, dry mustard, garlic salt and pepper with some dill and parsley.
Lastly some very tasty liverwurst and homemade sauerkraut in pastry cases.
All four canapés were appealing and satisfying, members delighting in variety and quantity.
Our aperitif wine was the At Roca ‘Reserva’ Brut Cava 2018.
Who doesn’t like a good roast...comfort food at its best and that what’s Denis served to us today.
Roast chicken Maryland, brined 2% for 24 hours, cooked sous vide for 3 hours at 75C, then finished in the oven to crisp the skin.
This was accompanied by perfectly crisped duck fat roast potatoes on soubise sauce.
Very tasty tarragon, thyme, parsley and lemon zest herb ball with homemade sourdough breadcrumbs apple, onion, melted butter and egg.
Broccolini with slivered almonds and lemon juice served with a rich jus of porcini mushrooms and a sofrito of celery, onion and carrot sautéed in schmaltz then mixed with chicken gelatine, chicken stock, Bristol Cream sherry and thickened with a beurre manié
Many favourable comments from the room as to the quality, flavour and textures of lunch today.
The main course wines were:
2018 Guigal Cote du Rhône blanc
2015 Montalto Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
Denis loves Espoisse and he requested it today and was obliged by our cheese master James Healey with a perfect example. It is a washed rind cow’s mike cheese from France and it’s famous for its strong smell and sticky golden rind which is washed with Marc de Bourgogne.
When mature it has a characteristic stinky smell, smooth melting texture and rich flavour, all of which we saw today.
Accompanying the cheese were some green and ‘moon’ grapes.
The cheese was matched with:
2015 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir
2011 Château La Rame Sainte Croix-du-Montis..
2007 Elderton Riverina Botrytis Sémillon
12 April 2022 CoTD Rob Doll
Food and wine review by Stephen O'Halloran who will be a new regular reviewer
Resident Chef Rob Doll did his usual excellent work with today’s lunch. For starters, we had some chicken liver pate Brioche toast. Delicious. Next to follow were Serrano Ham croquettes, wonderful. My choice on any menu. Finally, there was a liquid butternut gnocchi, which must have been very nice as it had vanished before I could get within range!
The main was Rob’s rendition of Lancashire Lamb Hot Pot. Beautifully slow-cooked shoulder with rich flavours topped with thin-sliced potatoes served in small casserole dishes, just heavenly!
To finish off we had a La Dame goat's milk cheese. I am normally a great fan of all the cheese we are lucky enough to enjoy at the Society lunches, but not this one. Neither a hard nor a soft cheese, it was a bit lost. Texture and flavour I found to be a little on the soapy side. But I am aware that others in the room liked it. You pay your money; you take your chances!
At the conclusion of the AGM, pre-lunch wines were served. The Cellarmaster produced a wine that was a surprise to us all. A 2008 Gouais from Chambers Vineyard in Rutherglen. Some research indicated it was from Ancient Europe, not well regarded and thought of as a peasant’s wine, notwithstanding that it is considered as possibly being the father of Chardonnay and Riesling grapes. We did the wine no favours by keeping it for so long, the wine being well past its prime. Chambers say they make only a small amount, which I think is a good thing for wine lovers generally. I hope this is the last time we see this wine.
The next two wines were Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley. A 2012 St Huberts and a 2016 Tarrawarra Estate. I am normally a fan of wines from St Huberts, but not this one. Too long in the Cellar, allowing the fruit and acid to fall away. A pity, still drinkable but would have been far better 4/5 years ago. The Tarrawarra was a fine PN, but in my view served far too cold. Slightly chilled PN is quite ok, but this one was over chilled, masking some of its very appealing fruit.
The first bracket of the lunch wines were two Cabernets, one from Bordeaux and the other a local from Coonawarra. Both were excellent. The French wine was Chateau Lanessan from 2009, a very reliable producer, and the local wine was the ever-popular St Hugo from 2004. I enjoyed both. The French wine was balanced, elegant and restrained. The St Hugo would have nothing of that, a real flavour bomb. At first look, I was thinking that it might be a little tired at 18 yo and with 14.5% alcohol, a stewed fruit finish. But no, tons of flavour with a clean aftertaste. The room had as expected varying opinions, mainly in favour of the French, but I personally was in the end attracted to the St Hugo. Both wines were good examples of the distinction in style between the French and the local Cabernets of good quality. A matter of personal preference.
The second bracket at our table consisted of two Shiraz, Best’s 2012 Bin 1 and a Guigal Cote Rotie 2007. I could not fault either. Good fruit balanced and clean finish. The Best’s had I think the edge in flavour, but there was not much in it. All four wines went well with the main course and cheese.
I am informed that some tables had different wines in the last bracket to what our table had, however as I did not see these wines I cannot comment.
All in all, an enjoyable afternoon to wrap up the AGM for 2022.
5 April 2022 CoTD Merv Peacock
29 March 2022 CoTD Greg Sproule
22 March 2022 CoTD James Hill
Food comments: Nick Reynolds. Wine comments: Phil Laffer
Tuesday marked the fourth Chef of the Year Cook-Off, this time with James Hill taking us on a foodie tour of Greece.
James was ably assisted by James Tinslay, who did a riff on his extremely popular sausage rolls and our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, who provided home-made white Taramasalata for the main course.
James served two appetisers. The first was tuna blended with mascarpone, capers, dill, chives and lemon zest presented on a witlof leaf which gave a bitter, crunchy counterpoint to the dip. The second was hummus bi tahini, served simply in a plain tart shell. James commented that he made this with Australian organic chickpeas, which are globally highly regarded.
As a self-proclaimed foundation member of the Sausage Roll and Wine Society of NSW (SR&WS of NSW), James Tinslay adapted his popular sausage rolls to fit in with the Greek theme. Lamb-based, they were augmented by Spinach, Feta, Onion, Red Capsicum, Greek herbs and garlic, lemon juice and zest and that old Greek standby, Panko breadcrumbs. Served with a Tomato Chutney augmented with Kashmiri Chili (apparently from an extra island in the Dodecanese). The rolls were both delicious and filling. Several members ate large numbers of these, thinking that they were the main course. The appetisers were served with 2014 Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon which was an elegant wine with intense fruit that was drinking well at this age.
The main was a reprise of the visually stunning and much-praised Eggplant and Scallop dish that James cooked last year. The dish is a variant on a seafood moussaka originally created by Peter Conistis, Sydney’s Father of modern Greek Food. A fried eggplant slice was lavishly covered with White Taramasalata, topped with three perfectly cooked Canadian scallops, followed by strips of roasted red capsicum, another slice of eggplant, and finally topped with a rich tomato salsa. The presentation was enhanced by generous servings of salmon roe and avruga caviar. A feast for the eyes, the flavour combination was exceptional. Some felt that the eggplant skin was a touch tough compared to when James has cooked the dish before. Chilly Hargrave had an each-way bet by matching both a white and a red wine with the dish. The white, which many felt was the ideal match with the food, was a 2015 Curly Flat Macedon Range Chardonnay. A more traditional Australian Chardonnay, it was well oaked with well balanced peach-melon fruit. The weight of the wine matched that of the food extremely well. The red was a 2014 Christian Clerget Bourgogne Rouge which was both elegant and attractive with good cherry fruit and soft tannins. Many considered this to be the wine of the day.
Our Cheesemaster James Healey presented a Le Marquis Brie made from milk from a small herd of pampered Fresian cows. Made in a modern, purpose-built Fermier in the Ile de France the cheese came to the table in excellent condition accompanied by sliced William Bartlett pears and Italian whole-wheat crackers. Two 2012 Barossa Shiraz wines were served with the cheese. The pick of the two Shiraz was a Saltram Mamre Brook which was a big sweet, fruity wine with plum, black pepper, and good length. The second was a Gibson Dirtman, which conversely was somewhat tired, dry and astringent. Phil Laffer commented that Matt Holmes, who was distributing the wines on the day, served the reds direct from the wine fridge at 15C, which was a perfect temperature for these big wines from the Barossa.
The lunch was also an opportunity to welcome three new members: George Peters, Brian Dunn, and Paul Touma. They certainly picked a great lunch with which to start their Wine and Food Society journey.