15 September 2020 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker (more to come)

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Food review by James Hill and wine review (yet to come) by Chilly Hargrave.

Our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, was in the kitchen today assisted by Steve Sparkes and they provided bountiful Greek fare.

Entree

First up, after we had taken our seats, we were served a classic mezze plate of Greek canapés.

Taramasalata on toast with a little octopus tucked in the tarama.

  • Dolmades with tzatziki, the tzatziki was made with yoghurt, mint and lemon juice.
  • Cheese triangle of feta and pecorino
  • Pork neck souvlakia with hummus and Greek salad salsa on pitta

Peter Manners praised the quality of canapés being presented at lunches and said today was no exception.

Main course

We were promised octopus cooked three ways, we had:

  • Octopus braised in tomato and olives on eggplant,
  • Pickled octopus with fennel,
  • BBQ octopus on skordalia.
  • Fries dusted with oregano. Who doesn’t like fries?

The writer cannot remember the last time we had fries served at a society lunch.

The dish attracted praise for taste, texture and presentation showing the versatility of octopus which capped off this triumphal trio from Bill.

Bill advised that some of the best souvlakia meat can be purchased from Souvlaki Boys in Marrickville.

Cheese

The cheese had members guessing what animal/origin. Most thought it was European.

The cheese today was a Society favourite Berry’s Creek Gourmet Cheese Tarwin Blue. Barry Charlton specialises in blue cheese. His purpose-built factory in South Gippsland overlooks Wilson’s Promontory and it’s there that Barry uses the milk from a few local dairy farms to handcraft his wheels of blue.

Taking its name from the local river, this cheese is inoculated with a combination of three strains of starter cultures and one of blue mould spores. After maturation in a small room next to the dairy for a minimum of two months, the rich buttery texture becomes interspersed with dark blue veins and develops a distinct creamy blue finish.

Today we saw a great example of this blue cheese served at optimal temperature and condition. It was simply served with dried figs poached in orange and ouzo syrup. Comments suggested this was one if the best cheese accompaniments we have seen.

Coffee

Our coffee was sourced by Nick from the Ona stable ‘El Salvador’ a blend of carbonic maceration lots and is characterised by notes of marmalade, peach, red apple and a hint of toffee.

John Goldsbrough closed the lunch saying it was most appropriate we had a Greek chef and meal today being the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Olympics and reminisced about his time carrying the Olympic flame in Palm Cove Queensland.

8 September 2020 - CoTD Bernard Leung

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Food

Bernard Leung was in the kitchen today as a first-time Chef of The Day for our Society. He was assisted by Steve Liebeskind.

We started with a stunning looking pea and ham soup which Bernard had based on a Heston Blumenthal recipe. The basis of the soup was a six-hour slow-cooked ham hock stock which had a noticeable depth of flavour to this starter. The soup was topped with shredded ham hock. It looked good and tasted good.

This was followed by lamb shank which had been sou vide medium-rare at 62°C for 40 hours. Whilst the meat came off the bone beautifully, it was not the messy “falling off” effect you often get with oven slow cooking. The stock was based on beef bones and then combined with reduced red wine. The meat was accompanied by parsnip crisps (which were delectable) and broccoli set on mash. There were a couple of comments from the very satisfied attendees that it was good to have a good quantity of sauce so that it could be enjoyed until the last of the meal was eaten. Over the past few years, there have been numerous comments that the meal was good, but more sauce was needed. Well done Bernard.

Our Cheesemaster was on a NSW road trip but selected and organised the cheese which was a favourite, Ossau Iraty. This French Basque country cheese is generally aged from 80 to 120 days and is sheep’s milk. The importer in this case was one of our regular suppliers, Will Studd. Whilst this cheese is described a semihard ours was a little more on the hard side but had developed intense flavour due to the slightly mature age. It is often described as fruity, herbaceous and nutty. Today’s cheese was a fine example of the style. It was accompanied by a simple salad.

Coffee was from ONA by the President and was washed Guatemala El Socorro. It is described as having aromas of green apple and caramel accompanied by hazelnut-like notes and a persimmon quality on the finish. 

I am sure that our Foodmaster will ensure that Bernard has another lunch lined up for 2021.

Wine

We started with a couple of Chardonnays for the entrée course. The first from Georges Lignier was a 2017 Marsannay Blanc. It’s not a renowned appellation for Chardonnay as it is at the northern end on the Côte de Nuits, almost into the suburbs of Dijon. The wine was still young but lacked the intensity and tension seen in the Côte de Beaune Chardonnays. Perhaps a little too much oak and not enough texture at this stage.

The Chardonnay that followed was a 2017 Domaine Etienne Boileau Chablis 1er Cru Montmains. Most thought the classic Chablis structure of a well-balanced acid structure was superior to the Marsannay. The stony mineral backdrop. with a dry refreshing finish with a crisp acidity was superb.

With the duck (and cheese) we had 6 red burgundies from 2 producers. The first 3 were a mini bracket of 2009 vintage Remoissenets. To start, a village Gevrey-Chambertin showed bright cherry fruit though perhaps lacking in depth and texture. Its tannins had softened with time and was very approachable. The Pommard 1er Cru “Les Arvelets” was in great condition. This site is up above the village with some of the steepest slopes of the commune. It was a wine of great elegance, but with some of the famous Pommard power and tannin of the wines from the deeper soils to the south. The third wine was the first of four Grand Cru, this one from the Corton vineyard of “Les Renardes” towards the top of the slope on the northern border of the commune of Aloxe Corton. The wine was quite delicious. It had great intensity with beautifully expressed red fruits. A slightly robust wine with length, balance and complexity.

Next followed three Grand Cru red burgundies from Domaine Lupé-Cholet. The 2003 Clos Vougeot was a little disappointing. This climat is about 50 ha with a great diversity of soil, aspect and drainage. It is the largest single grand cru vineyard in burgundy and is probably drawn into this one Cru by the wall built around it in the 14th century by the Cistercian monks. They lost control soon after the revolution in the early 1800s which the church estates were all sold. It now has about 80 different owners. The best parts are in the south-west corner at the top of the hill near the great Échezeaux vineyards. The bottom third of the vineyard is in low lying ground below the level of the N74. Of interest is that majority of the vineyards in this line to the north and south are only classified as village. The Lupé-Cholet vineyards are on some of the flatter ground at the southern end. The 2003 harvest was memorable because of the heat of August and probably shows some impact of this weather extreme. It was a little jammy in its fruit profile, quite oaky and with very soft tannins to finish.

The two Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru wines that followed were both exceptional in their own way. The Charmes-Chambertin vineyard sits directly to the south of its more famous neighbours of Chambertin and Clos de Bèze. This 2002 wine was from a great vintage and showed beautiful Pinot Noir perfume with a subtle and astute overlay of oak. On the palate, there was a wonderful mouthfeel and length with surprisingly soft tannins. The 1999 Latricières-Chambertin (the next one south from Charmes) was a bit of a sleeper. It was poured last on the suspicion that it might fall over. However, after a slight dip, it continued to open throughout the afternoon. From a slightly hot and low acid vintage, the wine showed a glorious fruit expression of ripe berries with a fine flavour that lingered long in the mouth. It was full-bodied and textured with depth and energy at its core and structuring tannins. Although the Latricières-Chambertin is one of the smaller and lesser-known of the Grand Crus, it certainly was the standout of the four.

Another great day enhanced by the extraction of 18 corks with no TCA.

1 September 2020 - CoTD Peter Manners

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Food review by Nick Reynolds and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Food

Are you 95?

It’s not a question you hear often but it was asked of our chef of the day. His reply: add one.

On Tuesday we had the honour of having our lunch prepared by the society’s second oldest member, World War Two Veteran Peter Manners.

And what a lunch it was.

Peter has been watching all the new styles of cooking and different nationalities of the dishes prepared and decided to go back to good old basics from his English heritage.

Today we were served one of the best Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding meals that I have ever had. On my early arrival, Peter was wandering around wondering what to do because everything had been prepared and was ready to go. The pieces of beef looked fantastic before cooking and were even better when cooked to a perfect level of doneness. The Yorkshire pudding was crisp and light and the gravy, a perfect accompaniment although a number felt that there wasn’t enough. Accompanying vegetables were potato, beetroot, and brussels sprouts. The latter vegetable was perfectly prepared according to those who sampled them but some of us were not up to what can be a challenging for some cruciferous vegetable. Peter told us that its use was seasonal in the UK, with it appearing when available but replaced by green beans when it wasn’t.

The meal was substantial on meat (a Society preference), perfectly prepared and presented, extremely tasty, and acclaimed by all commentators.

A number of diners asked where Peter had sourced the meat. His answer was Coles Balgowlah but being Peter, he gave us the full story that he had been talking to the butcher there for a number of weeks leading up to the final purchase and the butcher had taken a close personal interest in sourcing the best meat for Peter. He succeeded.

Leading into the meal, we had the first appearance in the kitchen by Steve Sparkes since he became a member. The appetisers all involved fish and were sufficiently challenging to our palates for some to voice that they preferred some over others. Notably, however, everyone found at least one that they savoured.  Steve presented smoked rainbow trout with ginger on melba toast, which was perfectly curled and extremely well seasoned. A second appetiser, which challenged a few, was a heated button mushroom with crab and cream cheese filling seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Some didn’t like the texture of the mushroom but if you were familiar with and like textural Chinese food, it was very enjoyable. The last appetiser was a wonton wrapper baked as a pastry shell with sashimi-grade tuna, Asian condiments, sesame seed, and a touch of chili.

The quality of the appetisers and their visual appeal was commented on very favourably and we look forward to seeing what Steve produces when he is the Chef of the Day next month.

In theme with the British main course, we were presented with Quicke’s Cheddar. The Quicke family have produced this cheese for almost five hundred years and their expertise shows. A perfect cheddar came to the table with a good crumbly texture and strong flavour. Peter accompanied it with sultanas, unsalted cashews and an iceberg lettuce leaf.

The coffee, which came from Ona Marrickville, was an El Salvador Himalaya coffee, which the roaster called “Supersonic.” The special natural processed coffee has a powerful flavour profile, ranging from red cherry and raisin to hibiscus and dark chocolate.

Wine

A pair of Chardonnays were in the table today to accompany our entree. Both could be described as newer style as they showed the recognisable flint, struck match notes of wild (natural) fermentation. The 2017 Collector Wines Tiger Tiger Chardonnay from Tumbarumba was a very elegant, refined style. It showed good minerality with grapefruit characters and excellent length. The 2017 Tapanappa Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay on the other was quite big with fruit more in the peach/melon spectrum and a rather sharp acidity pulling up the finish.

Two Cabernet-based wines were served with the main course. From Margaret River and Coonawarra, both were still in very good condition with their regional characters to the fore. The 2007 Devil’s Lair Cabernet (81%)/Merlot (19%) was still young and bright with aromas of red currant and cedar oak. The palate was quite vigorous with red and black fruits finished by dry, grainy Cabernet tannins. The 2002 Zema Estate Cabernet had again retained freshness, although it might have presented better under screw cap. This time fruit aromas were more chocolate and mint and again complemented with quality oak. Starting to show its age on the palate the flavours were complex with soft tannins.

Cheese wines were another pair, this time Tyrrells Vat 9 Shiraz. Both showed amazing colour and clarity with no hints of browning. The 2011 was a little reduced which tended to suppress the fruit and leave a certain hardness on the finish. Still a very young wine. The 2007 was obviously more evolved and softer. Perhaps a little green with some reduction and softening tannins. More approachable and peaking.

25 August 2020- CoTD Paul Thorne

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Food review by James Hill and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Food

We welcomed Paul Thorne back to the kitchen as chef of the day for our wine tasting lunch. He was assisted by James Hill.

Entrees/starters

Still in COVID mode members were seated to enjoy today’s starters.

First served was a plate consisting of salmon rillette and taramasalata.

The salmon rillette is a Philippe Mouchel recipe where a salmon fillet is cooked for 15 minutes then mixed with an equal amount of diced smoked salmon then lemon juice, dill and cream added and then left to marinate overnight. It is served with chervil.

A good complex flavoursome entree matched on the plate with a portion of taramasalata topped with Avruga caviar. The tarama was a good contrast to the rich smoky oily of the rillette with a strong lemon taste. The tarama is made with sourdough breadcrumbs and, as a side, the crust was baked in the oven and served with our entree.

Paul’s renowned for his consommé and today he didn’t disappoint it was a clear duck consommé a smidge of orange zest and a quail egg for good measure. The good robust flavour of duck was enhanced by the zest and then a mouthful of quail egg to further enjoy.

Main

Paul nominated duck as to match our Burgundian wine theme.

Duck Maryland was cooked ‘sous vide’ then seared on the hot plate in the kitchen rested then kept warm in the oven.

It was well cooked pink, moist and full of flavour and accompanied by some duck fat roasted kipfler potatoes. We normally see duck Maryland cooked confit it was good to try this variation.

We also had compote of tomato, eggplant and baby peppers roasted in olive oil to counter the acid of the tomatoes Paul added some dates and black currants. A good well-balanced flavoursome dish that could stand alone.

The duck sat on a mash of carrot and cauliflower, the art world talks of colour and movement and we saw this on the plate today. Frank suggested the mash was there to stop the duck from walking away!

Cheese

Our Cheesemaster, James Healey, on theme, presented La Couronne du Comte AOP, an unpasteurised milk cheese matured in the damp underground cellars of Marcel Petite at Fort Saint Antoine high in the mountains that border France and Switzerland in the Franche-Comte region. It has a rich concentrated nutty texture elegant, caramel sweetness and lingering flavour.

The cheese was accompanied by a half Packham pear and some Californian dates. A good match.

Coffee

Our coffee was sourced by Nick from the Ona stable, a Roasters Selection Castillo is a blend of Colombian Castillo and is packed full of fruit. On the first sip, you notice notes of orange and mixed berries and as the brew cools down these fruit notes are accompanied by a praline like sweetness.

Wine

For today’s wine lunch the cook of the day said “duck” and the wine master said Burgundy. So, we started with a couple of Chardonnays for the entrée course. The first from Georges Lignier was a 2017 Marsannay Blanc. It’s not a renowned appellation for Chardonnay as it is at the northern end on the Côte de Nuits, almost into the suburbs of Dijon. The wine was still young but lacked the intensity and tension seen in the Côte de Beaune Chardonnays. Perhaps a little too much oak and not enough texture at this stage.

The Chardonnay that followed was a 2010 Chablis 1er Cru ‘Fourchaume’ from Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fèvre. Not to be confused with the renowned and large Domaine William Fèvre, they still have significant vineyard holdings and family history in the region. The 2010 vintage was difficult in Chablis (the first of many to come in the decade) with a miserable spring and cool summer. The low yields allowed fruit ripeness, but harvest was not until late September, early October. Today’s wine was still fresh and lively. It is the only premier Cru wine that the domaine does not put in oak and this has helped this wine age gracefully. Nonetheless, the fruit aromas and flavours were showing some development with a hint of “apricot” botrytis - not uncommon in Chablis.

With the duck (and cheese) we had 6 red burgundies from 2 producers. The first 3 were a mini bracket of 2009 vintage Remoissenets. To start, a village Gevrey-Chambertin showed bright cherry fruit though perhaps lacking in depth and texture. Its tannins had softened with time and was very approachable. The Pommard 1er Cru “Les Arvelets” was in great condition. This site is up above the village with some of the steepest slopes of the commune. It was a wine of great elegance, but with some of the famous Pommard power and tannin of the wines from the deeper soils to the south. The third wine was the first of four Grand Cru, this one from the Corton vineyard of “Les Renardes” towards the top of the slope on the northern border of the commune of Aloxe Corton. The wine was quite delicious. It had great intensity with beautifully expressed red fruits. A slightly robust wine with length, balance and complexity.

Next followed three Grand Cru red burgundies from Domaine Lupé-Cholet. The 2003 Clos Vougeot was a little disappointing. This climat is about 50 ha with a great diversity of soil, aspect and drainage. It is the largest single grand cru vineyard in burgundy and is probably drawn into this one Cru by the wall built around it in the 14th century by the Cistercian monks. They lost control soon after the revolution in the early 1800s which the church estates were all sold. It now has about 80 different owners. The best parts are in the south-west corner at the top of the hill near the great Échezeaux vineyards. The bottom third of the vineyard is in low lying ground below the level of the N74. Of interest is that majority of the vineyards in this line to the north and south are only classified as village. The Lupé-Cholet vineyards are on some of the flatter ground at the southern end. The 2003 harvest was memorable because of the heat of August and probably shows some impact of this weather extreme. It was a little jammy in its fruit profile, quite oaky and with very soft tannins to finish.

The two Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru wines that followed were both exceptional in their own way. The Charmes-Chambertin vineyard sits directly to the south of its more famous neighbours of Chambertin and Clos de Bèze. This 2002 wine was from a great vintage and showed beautiful Pinot Noir perfume with a subtle and astute overlay of oak. On the palate, there was a wonderful mouthfeel and length with surprisingly soft tannins. The 1999 Latricières-Chambertin (the next one south from Charmes) was a bit of a sleeper. It was poured last on the suspicion that it might fall over. However, after a slight dip, it continued to open throughout the afternoon. From a slightly hot and low acid vintage, the wine showed a glorious fruit expression of ripe berries with a fine flavour that lingered long in the mouth. It was full-bodied and textured with depth and energy at its core and structuring tannins. Although the Latricières-Chambertin is one of the smaller and lesser-known of the Grand Crus, it certainly was the standout of the four.

Another great day enhanced by the extraction of 18 corks with no TCA.

18 August 2020 CoTD Hal Epstein

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Food

In what was probably a unique successive pair of lunches, our Chef of the Day this week, Hal Epstein, prepared the lunch but was unable to attend in person, except very briefly to be with the Foodmaster in the kitchen to explain the meal. [It was Gary Patterson last week who found himself in similar circumstances.] After that Bill Alexiou-Hucker took over the duties of the day.

Being seated complying with our pandemic provisions we were served two filo pastry pieces or ‘cheese twirls’ on our plates. The first had flavours of Middle Eastern spices and turned out to be cumin, while the second one was a surprise as Hal had used Vegemite as the flavouring agent. Both were very tasty and went with the dry Italian whites selected by our Winemaster.

The main course was a boon for the lovers of tripe and as we found out during the booking period many cannot face that particular piece of meat. There was a good representation from the tripe club attending lunch. Some members had not recently eaten tripe having had their mothers tripe meals many decades ago curb any interest.

Osteria Oggi is a hatted restaurant in Adelaide that is lauded for creative, produce-driven food and Hal reproduced one of their classic dishes which has also been featured on the SBS cooking program The Chef’s Line, tripe with fennel and tomatoes

The tripe had a great texture which absorbed and carried the flavours of the ingredients. The comments were very complimentary even from non-tripe eaters.

The cheese presented today by James Healey was a new one for many of us, L’Amuse Brabander. The cheese was almost porcelain white and was, James explained, a goats milk Gouda but a lesser-known variety made near Amsterdam since the early 1800s. The cheese was very flavoursome and maintained a degree of moisture but there was still some form of crunch on the palate. A most unusual Gouda.

The cheese was accompanied by quince paste and homemade (by Hal) marinated kumquats served on a tiny skewer. A classy match.

Coffee was sourced by the President, once again from the ONA stable. This selection was named The Hitman and it had a higher roast than in previous weeks. It is described as “a bold, full-bodied comfort coffee flavours of caramel, malt, nut and spices.”

A happy bunch of members left lunch.

Wine

Today’s entrée wines started the theme of Italian varietals. A bright, fresh 2018 Bisci Verdicchio was new to many of the members. Perhaps Riesling like in its citrus notes, it had a texture more identified with Pinot Gris. This was paired with a 2017 Scorpo Pinot Grigio from the Mornington Peninsula. Australia’s best-known region for the variety, it was made in a very different style to most from the area. Fermented on skins and aged on lees, it had some colour, phenolics and oily texture. An excellent example of the hipster style.

A pair of exciting Tuscan reds accompanied the exciting main course. First, a 2012 Isole e Olena Cepparello interestingly closed under screwcap. Formed in the early 1950s on the purchase of the adjoining Isole and Olena vineyards but the De Marche family. A 100% Sangiovese wine, when first produced it was required to be labelled an IGT because at that time Chianti was required to contain 10% to 30% Malvasia and Trebbiano. While the DOCG laws have changed Cepparello is still labelled IGT. It showed a wonderful savoury, cherry aroma with a rich, but elegant palate finishing quite firm. A delightful wine.

The 2009 Antinori Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino expressed a very different style of Sangiovese. Originally the red variety around Montalcino was labelled Brunello. Later ampelographical work has shown it to be Sangiovese Grosso. The locals, however, continue to call it Brunello. The DOCG requirement for this wine demands 100% Sangiovese, ageing in oak for a minimum of 2 years and then 4 months in bottle before release. The Pian delle Vigne is a large vineyard acquired by the Antinori family in 1995, so this is a wine with not a lot of history. Nonetheless, it is one of the best-regarded of the Brunellos. Antinori has wisely chosen to age their wine in large oak. This avoids the overdeveloped characters seen in many from the region and a, loss the fruit to shine through. This was from a hot year, so shows a lot of ripe notes yet very soft tannins. The room was split half and over these 2 excellent reds. Some preferring the softness of the latter while others leaned to the fruit drive of the former.

The cheese wines were a pair of Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz. This vineyard was planted by Edward Tyrrell in 1879 and is one of the company’s nominated sacred sites. They note that “these vines are some of the oldest and rarest not only in Australia but also the world, all because the Hunter Valley never had phylloxera.” The wines are generally aged in large vat to preserve the aromatics. Today’s vintages tasted were 2005, which showed a little fruit development and some hard tannins, and 2011 which was still too young and consequently a little firm.

11 August 2020 CoTD Gary Patterson

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Food review by Nick Reynolds and wine review by Charles "Chilly" Hargrave

Food

One thing that can be said about our Chefs of the Day is their dedication to providing meals for their fellow members.

Today Gary Patterson cooked and delivered the food to the Royal Exchange Club, despite being unable to attend himself.

Meals cooked by Gary are always an adventure and today’s lunch was no exception.

Because Gary wasn’t at the lunch, cooking and plating were undertaken by the Royal Exchange Club’s chef, Leo Rachid. He was ably assisted by two members who we don’t normally associate with the kitchen, Paul Panichi and James Healey. After today’s performance, we certainly hope to see them back in the kitchen.

Gary’s entrée was billed as a crab cake. After inspecting the product, Leo worked his chef magic on it presenting us with a crab and potato mornay served over rocket and topped with salmon roe.

Although not a crab cake, it was enjoyed by members who commented favourably on the dish.

The main dish was advertised as a Cassoulet and although it had all the elements of a Cassoulet, it presented differently from our normal experience of that dish. The duck that Gary acquired for the meal came from a Marrickville restaurant popular with a number of members, BBQ Prince. Typical of Chinese duck, it was redolent with five-spice, which added an unusual note to this French dish. In his comments on the dish, James Hill called it “Hong Kong Cassoulet,” which was probably an accurate assessment.

The duck was accompanied by extremely flavourful Toulouse sausages, which normally don’t have five-spice but somehow the star anise had penetrated them during the cook.  The dish was accompanied by perfectly cooked Dutch Carrots and an interesting toasted bread crumb which added texture to the dish. Although texture was probably not needed as the beans were masterfully soaked but not cooked sufficiently. They gave the general impression of eating raw unroasted peanuts, again fitting perfectly the emergent Chinese theme of the meal.

James Healey is actively working to present Australian cheese during the COVID-19 lockdown and today he presented us with a cheese called Fermier, which is made in Mortlake Victoria by the producer L’Artisan. The maker is Matthieu Megard, a third-generation cheesemaker, who grew up in the French Alps and after moving to Australia set up his own dairy and cheesery with the aim of sharing the cheeses of his childhood with Australians. The cheese is a semi-hardened, smear-ripened cow’s milk cheese reminiscent of the classic Morbier cheeses of Jura with their ash layer in the centre.

The cheese was nutty in flavour with a smoky finish and was mistaken by a number of members as being European in origin with the ash being misinterpreted as being a blue mould.

Today’s coffee came once again from Ona Coffee, Marrickville. From El Salvadorean beans, the Filter Coffee was called Divisadero, Honey. The ‘Super Honey’ beans from Ataco, El Salvador when roasted had notes of malt, chocolate truffle, and a hint of cacao. The roaster presented it as a Mars Bar in filter coffee form.

The day was enjoyed by all and the President closed the lunch with the suggestion that people maintain social distance on their way home, not only because of our current circumstances but also due to the aromatic effects that beans such as those eaten today can have.

Wine

Today’s entrée was matched with a pair of 2013 Rieslings. Drawn from SA’s best two regions for the variety, the differences didn’t stop there. They represented two very diverse approaches to the winemaking. The Pewsey Vale from Yalumba was in a bigger style, showing fresh acidity and a depth and mouthfeel derived from natural fermentation. The Jim Barry from their Lodge Hill vineyards was much more restrained. It still showed pure citrus fruit with a zippy acidity. Probably won’t improve much over time as it develops more buttered toast characters.

The pair of 2010 Shiraz were again in a very different mould. The Kiss Shiraz from Andrew Thomas still showed obvious cedary oak with bright red berry fruit. The palate was beautifully weighted with a certain mineral element. The tannins on the palate we’re a little hard on the finish. Still a young wine and an excellent example from a difficult vintage. The No. 1 Shiraz can be traced back to the first Saltram vintage in 1862. From a very good year, it showed very much in the TWE house style with a perfect harmony of fruit, oak and tannin. Another wine that will accept more time in bottle, although it perhaps lacked energy and a little boring.

With the cheese came more Shiraz, but this time with more age. First was a 2001 Vasse Felix Shiraz. This was drawn from their Wilyabrup vineyard. The Shiraz vines are the oldest in Margaret River, having been planted in 1967. Although under crumbling corks, it surprised by its freshness and recognisable varietal bouquet. Still showing oak and tannin, it was an excellent example of the keeping qualities of the region.

The final wine for the day was a 1993 St Hallett Old Block Shiraz. A wine that was first produced in the early 1980s, it was originally drawn from a very old block near the winery. It must be said that just because vines are extremely old, they don’t necessarily make the best wine. St Hallett resolved such was the case with Old Block. Although still sourced from old vines, it no longer comes from the original block. Instead, fruit is from vineyards in both Eden Valley and Barossa Valley. Again lousy corks and again the wine was holding together. Past its best, but still bright and certainly on style. A few rancio oak notes and the recognisable ripe Barossa fruit.

4 August 2020 - CoTD Robert Rae

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Food review by James Hill and wine write up by Nick Reynolds, with background information supplied by Charles Hargrave

Food

Robert Rae was our chef of the day ably assisted by Nigel Burton on canapés. A special lunch today to celebrate the 90th birthday of life member Ray Healey.

Canapés

Nigel Burton presented the canapés today firstly:

  • · gazpacho with good balance of spice and flavour topped with a bit toasted bread, a little salt made it perfect.
  • · a spicy chorizo piece with a garlic aioli. A good example if chorizo a pleasant mouthfeel with no residual fat.

Main

Robert’s dish was inspired by a Rick Stein Spanish seafood recipe.

Mixed seafood was presented with a full-flavoured tomato sauce cooked with celery, oregano and white wine. The sauce was cooked a day before so the flavours were well integrated. The seafood and sauce sat on a piece of bread rubbed with garlic and tomato. There is a challenge when cooking seafood to get all the pieces cooked without losing the integrity of the ingredients. Today it was perfect, the mixed seafood consisted of mussels, prawns whiting and calamari. Topped with a bit of parsley and another garlic bread for good measure the dish was favourably commented on and appreciated by members today.

Cheese

Our Cheesemaster James Healey selected the cheese today ‘Merco Iberico’

This hard, blended milk cheese is typical of those once traditionally found in many parts of Spain where mixed herds of dairy animals were common, and the ratios of milk type used in cheesemaking constantly altered according to seasonal availability.

The cows’ milk provided the volume, goats’ milk gave the cheese a white colour and lingering piquancy, whilst the use of ewe’s milk provided a rich buttery texture.

Iberico is commonly found all over Spain today and is often substituted for Manchego because of its lower price.

This was served with a mixed salad leaves and some pine nuts.

Coffee

Our president Nick Reynolds supplied the coffee today single origin El Salvador Himalaya #5 with a flavour probe set, floral with dark fruit notes such as black cherry and plum accompanied by a hibiscus note present in aroma and finish.

Wine

Today’s wines were selected by the Winemaster as a special celebration of Ray Healey’s 90th birthday and as an acknowledgement of his time as Winemaster, President, and Life Member of the Society.

As has become our process during the time of Covid-19, the wines were poured prior to people commencing the meal. The difference between appetiser wines, main course wines, and cheese wines becomes blurred with such an arrangement so I’ll deal with the wines in the order in which they were presented.

Our first wine came from Chablis from the plentiful 2018 harvest. The domaine, William Fevre, was established in 1957, and now has vineyard holdings including 12 hectares of Premier Cru and 16 hectares of Grand Cru vines. The Domaine’s fruit is harvested by hand and rigorously sorted in the winery. In recent times the amount of new oak has been cut back and the average age of the barrels is five years. A touch of oak (5-10%, all old) in this wine added to its complexity. Today’s wine had slight elements of citrus with some lime on the palate as well as a delicious peach note, all balanced on the clean acid minerality coming from the Domaine’s Kimmeridgian subsoil.

Our second and third wines both came from Tyrrell’s in the Hunter Valley with similarities of style but also some subtle differences.

First, we had the 2013 Vat 47 Chardonnay. The 2013 Hunter vintage commenced earlier than expected with harvesting starting in mid-January. Crops were down by around a third as a result of a dry growing season, with only 90mm of rain from September to mid-January.

Only three of Tyrrell’s own vineyards are used for the Vat 47 – the HVD (Hunter Valley Distillery) Vineyard which had the original Penfolds clone planted in 1923, the NVC (New Vine Cuttings) Vineyard which has 30-year-old Chardonnay vines and Tyrrell’s Short Flat. These vineyards share a common alluvial soil, which imparts a unique clarity of flavour in the fruit that is grown in it.

 A slight whiff of matchstick on the nose pointed to some reductive treatment of the wine during winemaking. Oak, malolactic fermentation and lees work was evident on the nose with pleasant notes of vanilla and toasted brioche. Both nose and palate revealed delicious ripe stone fruit, including peach and nectarine. The wine was well balanced, full-bodied and had a long, slightly bitter, but pleasant finish. For many in the room, this was the favourite white of the day.

The second wine was again a Vat 47 Chardonnay, this time from the 2005 vintage. Like its younger version, this wine was also under screwcap. This wine was a favourite amongst those in the room who like more mature wines. The primary fruit was different from the 2013 vintage, sitting more on the citrus end of the spectrum, with this being most apparent in the bitter lemon finish to the wine. Looking up the vintage report for this year, the weather pattern was one of mild to warm days with unusually cool nights punctuated by rain events that tended to accelerate vine growth and fill out the crop. The normal heat spikes that can occur for the Hunter were limited and followed by cool to mild periods. If anyone thinks that wines cannot age under screwcap, this was a wine to prove them wrong. The full-bodied and well-balanced wine showed delicious honey notes characteristic of aged white wine.

Our next wine was a Society favourite, the 1999 Rosemount Mountain Blue Shiraz/Cabernet from Mudgee. Being under cork, there was some bottle variation and the best bottle was poured on Ray’s table. The age of the wine had turned its fruits into cooked versions of themselves and there was a chocolate note accompanying the rich cooked plum and blackberry compote flavours. The Shiraz was balanced by slightly green notes from the Cabernet giving a delightful, complex, aged red wine.

Being Ray’s birthday, we next ventured into two Red Burgundies.

The first of these was a 2012 Georges Lignier Chambolle-Musigny. The Lignier name is well known in the village of Morey-St-Denis. Georges is the cousin of the better known Hubert and his wines are made in very different style. Although preferring to pick slightly late, there is 80% destemming and a long cold soak before ferment starts. Maturation is 18 months in old oak. Chambolle is renowned for its pretty wines of perfume and elegance. Today’s wine did not let us down. Perfumed dark cherry covered the palate accompanied by elegant fine soft tannins leading into a long satisfying finish. For many, this was the favourite red of the day. Some comments were made on the colour of the wine which seemed almost prematurely brown. Despite this, it is drinking exceptionally well.

The last wine came from Philippe Cheron, a maker with whom Ray has had a long association. Philippe has managed the family domaine since 2011. It is quite small with only five hectares spread over many appellations, as is very common in Burgundy. Unlike Lignier, this domaine retains much more whole bunch and stalk with a longer pre-ferment cold soak (10 days) as well as a long post ferment maceration. Hence a much stronger wine. The lieu-dit of ‘Les Barreaux’ is quite unique. When the original plantings of Vosne Romanée were made by the monks, the area above Richebourg was quite steep and scrubby with shallow, rocky soil. Its subsequent planting, along with ‘Cros Parantoux’, has meant it now has the status of a Premier Cru although still only a village wine. It shares a boundary with the lesser part of Richebourg (which was controversially added in 1924 - its rows run north/south. Most of Vosne runs east/west). Phillipe Cheron’s vines also run north/south. On the shallow soil, the vines do struggle, but they gain great intensity. A slight northern aspect of the vineyard means it retains good acidity.

 Today’s wine was a 2012 Vosne Romanée “Les Barreaux.” This was a much deeper coloured wine than the Lignier with much more intense flavours as well, this time on the red fruit spectrum with cherry and redcurrant in the foreground. The tannin structure was complex and fine although there was a slight element of greenness, most likely coming from the whole bunch treatment and its associated use of stalks. Although the wine was exceptionally well balanced at this stage, it was quite likely opened too early in its evolution. This will be an interesting wine to look at in a few years’ time.

 Being Ray’s birthday, he brought along a truly unique wine for us to try with the cheese. The wine was a 1991 Augustine Aleatico from Mudgee. This grape is one that Ray has long been interested in and the wine was one that he was involved in making.

Aleatico is a somewhat rare and obscure Tuscan grape that has migrated South in Italy and is used to make a sweet, grapey red wine on the island of Elba. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes states that DNA tests show that Aleatico is either a parent or progeny of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.

The Augustine Aleatico came from the Settler’s Creek Vineyards in Mudgee from vines brought to Australia in the early 1920s by Dr Fiaschi, a war-hero surgeon and winemaker.

A sweet wine, it had an almost Rutherglen Muscat note on the nose with date, fig, and raisin. On the palate, it was far from fortified, with 11.4% alcohol and floral notes highlighting its relationship with Muscat accompanied by the dried fruit apparent on the nose. A delicious treat of a very rare Australian wine.  

28 July 2020 - CoTD Leo Rachid

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Food.

It’s always a promising day when the chef at the Royal Exchange Club cooks for us for a wine luncheon. This week we were not disappointed. With the restriction on numbers at REX, Leo has been doing it tough having to cut back on staff with him being a jack of all trades.

Entrée/Starters

Leo started us off today with scallops and to be accurate, big juicy Canadian scallops. These are a signature REX dish served in the shell with a Mornay sauce and mushrooms cooked in garlic butter. The scallops were wonderfully tender, and you can see why the combination of ingredients is referred to as classic.

Next up was another classic dish, French onion soup. Leo said that it was cooked in lots of butter with bay leaves, garlic, thyme, et cetera. The soup is made from the base stock of REX with a can be reduced for a demiglace. The richness of this dish was amazing, and it attracted many favourable comments.

Main

The lunch not being a health and wellness competition, Leo served us pork belly on horseradish mash with caramelised apples, accompanied by an orange and purple carrot with a wonderful jus. The pork belly had been baked for 3 to 4 hours in the oven and then blasted at high temperature to get a beautifully crisp crackling to top off this dish. The jus was based on cider with a good dose of bacon.

Again, this dish attracted praise for both the taste and presentation which capped off a wonderful trio of dishes from Leo.

Cheese

James Healey took us back Australia mode today, selecting a Pyengana mature clothbound cheddar. These come in 16 kg rounds and the cheese is a fine-textured with a (sometimes) crumbly body with subtle flavours, including some nuttiness. This is another Society favourite and we should enjoy it when we can because it is not always available through our suppliers.

The cheese was accompanied by red and white grapes and some quince fruit paste.

Truly a superb lunch.

Coffee

Nick Reynolds once again supplied coffee for this lunch with a single-origin coffee, Ethiopian Uraga from Ona Coffee. It was a medium strength coffee and to quote the supplier ‘this hand-selected filter blend is characterised by sweet, funky and tropical notes. Blackberry and tropical sweetness will hit you up front, but then will transition into qualities of jackfruit and to papaya as it cools.

After the Masters, Leo spoke to us lucky attendees and explained that he had picked three dishes today that were not only his favourites but also the signature dishes of his restaurant which were much loved by their day-to-day clientele.

Wine.

A couple of aged Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillons, both under screwcap, got our wine lunch underway. The 2011 vintage was still in excellent condition, with typical pure Hunter lemon aromas and flavours with a big acid finish. A bright match for the scallop. Similarly, the 2004 carried the same high acid, but not the fruit. The nose was all toast and honey, while the palate was starting to dry out.

With the main pork dish, we matched two pairs of Riesling from Alsace and Mosel. While only a few hundred kilometres apart, the difference between the wines of Hugel et Fils and Egon Muller couldn’t be more pronounced. Interestingly both wineries are members of the rare First Families of Wine. They share this with Château Mouton Rothschild, Vega Sicilia, Pol Roger and Antinori, amongst others.

The Hugel family can trace their origins back to 1639 and are renowned for both their Riesling and Gewurztraminer. We matched the 2013 standard release (12.5%) with the 2009 Jubilee Riesling (13.5%). Both wines had genuine lime, Riesling characters with a touch of apricot botrytis. The first, while pure and defined wasn’t a match for the Jubilee. Sourced from the famous Grand Cru Schoenenbourg vineyard, 2009 was one of the great vintages declared by Hugel, rivalling their 1990. With great weight and fruit drive, it was a perfect balance of flavour, sweetness and acidity. Perhaps the wine of the day.

Curiously, while Alsace has often been under German rule, the Scharzhofberger vineyard of Egon Muller was acquired from Napoleon after his defeat of Italy and his secularisation of the church estates in the Saar and Mosel. The 2013 Scharzhof Riesling (10.5%) is a blend of grapes from the estates Saarburg and Wawern vineyards. As with its partner, it was dominated by botrytis characters with a purity of fruit and sweetness matched by crisp acid. The 2010 (not 2009 - apologies for the misprint) Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett was similar in style to its younger sibling but wound up to the nth degree.  Much deeper in colour, it had a lusciousness more usually found in Sauternes, but with an enormous acidity.

Of interest was that the Hugel wines were closed with inert Diam cork while the Muller wines had screwcap. Certainly, Muller were ahead of the game 10 years ago. There seemed general agreement in the room that the four Rieslings were a great fit for the sweet flavours and fattiness of the pork dish.

The cheese was matched with a pair of Penfolds St Henri Shiraz. The 2010 was perhaps not as expected as many members dismissed this option as the vintage. Closed under screwcap, it was still an extremely young wine. Colour showed no browning edges, oak was still sitting on the fruit, but that was very clean and pure without overripe aromas. On the palate, there was an abundance of tannin and berry fruit. Both of these wines were poured with a filter, but still left a significant deposit in many glasses.

The 2001 St Henri, the last vintage for John Duval, was a completely different style. It was more refined and elegant with a delicious mineral tannin note. Still with some time ahead of it, there was more balance of components here with the fruit well expressed.

21 July 2020 - CoTD Gareth Evans and Ted Davis

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Food review by Steve Libeskind with some cheese notes by James Hill and wine review by Charles "Chilly" Hargrave 

Food

Today we had the A-Team of Gareth Evans and Ted Davis in the kitchen. Expectations were high as there are five COTY gongs between them and they want to look after their good friend, the Birthday Boy, Terry Stapleton (happy 90th).

At the table on arrival was a canape of a spread on a toasted square (two pieces). The spread was tinned sardine, butter, chilli, tarragon and chives. This was a tasty morsel to get the taste buds going.

Entrée

Served to members were a plate containing:

Two oysters – a Pacific and rock oyster topped with ruby finger lime – pretty and plenty of flavour from the lime fruit.

Piece of sardine on Japanese pickled seaweed served on square toast. The sardine was light and delicate, but the flavour was lost with the seaweed.

Octopus on witlof – The octopus was poached in rosemary, lime and garlic. Great flavour and the witlof gave the octopus a slight bitterness.

The entrée was pretty on the plate and was well received.

Main

The main was a beautifully presented and colourful Brazilian styled dish.

The hero of the meal was well prepared and rarely seen, flame tail snapper (from the Queensland reef). The snapper was poached in the oven in pre-cut pieces with the bone included and skin intact. The fish sat on a bed of steamed rice. The fish was covered by a healthy serving of a sauce comprising of coconut cream, tomatoes, capsicum and chilli. The fish was delicately prepared and cooked well although adding salt really lifted the flavours. The sauce took some down a Thai style red curry path however with tomatoes dominant and the chilli sparingly used we were all happy to accept the meal was from South America. Accompanying the snapper were a few poached prawns, a mussel, a dollop of capsicum and chilli sauce to add some ‘umph’ as required. The dish was topped with coriander as a garnish.

Cheese

Cantorel Bleu d’Auvergne AOP - made in several sizes of wheel, this cow’s milk cheese has been made in the Auvergne region for several centuries. The cheese was once made only from the milk of mountain dairy breeds and matured in mountain caves to utilise the unique blue mould flora that flourished there.


Although no longer cave ripened the cheese has been protected by AOC since 1976. Each whole cheese is foil wrapped to prevent a rind from forming as it matures. After 3 months it develops an even spread of steely blue veins through the body of the cheese and a moist and slightly crumbly texture. The flavour is quite tart and salty. Ours was perfect not so tart and salty.

Accompanying the terrific blue today was green salad based on a mixture of four different leaves and fused within a ruby grapefruit and sugar dressing.

Iggy’s sourdough bread was used throughout the lunch to accompany the meals.

A thoroughly enjoyable meal to celebrate a life member and past-President of the Society. A very special day.

Wine

Today, for Terry’s birthday, he most generously donated 2 champagnes. The first, Pol Roger NV, is a Society favourite, as it was for Winston Churchill. Although poured slightly early, as is our COVID requirement, it held its mousse well and showed aromas of brioche and green apples. The corks showed some cheville (pronounced sheveeya) which suggests some time since disgorging. This is the term describing a cork that doesn’t recover its mushroom shape on extraction, derived from the French for peg or dowel. While it did show some development, it still retained the house style of purity and elegance.

The second champagne was again NV and from the house of Piper Heidsieck. A favourite of Marilyn Monroe (she reputedly always kept a month’s supply on hand - I assume that was a lot), it has had a few changes of ownership since then. With less Chardonnay and time on lees than the first, it showed freshness, but without the complexity of the Pol.

Gareth suggested a couple of Mudgee wines would be appropriate for Terry on this august day. The first of these was a 2019 Robert Stein Riesling. Although pale in colour (as a number of members commented), it showed beautiful purity of lime and bath salts with freshness and clarity and a tense acid finish. Still a very young wine, it will be interesting to see this mature over the years.

Two Rhône whites from the Yves Cuilleron estate followed. Both wines were very much in the domaine’s style of fermentation in old oak with extended lees contact. The 2018 Roussanne showed fresh fruit (very ripe, towards oily) with an attractive firmness and weight on the palate. The 2016 Lyséras, a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne, carried much more artefact and obvious textural lees notes. A rather metallic finish did not please the cellar master.

The final was a classic 2006 Rosemount Mountain Blue. From Mudgee of course, and closed under screwcap, it was still in its prime. Perhaps exhibiting more Shiraz than Cabernet, it was extremely well structured with a harmony of fruit, oak and tannin. Greatly appreciated by most in the room - some more than others.!! We perhaps could have had another bottle.

14 July 2020 - CoTD Nico Flipo - guest French chef

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14 July is Bastille Day so what else could we have but a French chef. Nico Filippo has cooked for us once before and is the partner of popular ex-REX floor staff member Jess, who assisted him.

Food

In the Covid restriction mode, we were served to entrées seated in our tables. The first was a poached prawn on iceberg lettuce with a spiced mayonnaise aka a prawn cocktail. The iceberg added a delicate crunch to this small starter. Next up was pea and ham soup with the aromas arousing the palate immediately the bowl was placed on the table. A classic dish to which there was no cream added nor potatoes. The flavour of the smoked ham hock was magnificent. A wonderful way to start.

The main was a rump of lamb had been roasted with jus rosemary, gratin dauphinois and French beans. My meal was cooked to perfection with an enticing pink colour in the centre of the rather large portion. Nico told me that each rump was about 250 g so no one went hungry. The layered potato was decorated with rosemary and thyme sprigs standing proudly upright atop the stack.

Nico explained to us that the lamb had been cooked sou vide for 3.5 hours at 54° C and that in the style of French of serving all the “bits” were served on the plate rather than having side dishes. The dish was thoroughly enjoyed by the Covid reduced numbers in the room.

The cheese selected by James Healey but served by Gary Linnane did cause some confusion as many thought it was Beaufort (including myself) when it was another much-loved cheese, Comte from Jura. The salty and savoury overtones once again confirmed this is one of our favourite cheeses.

The coffee today again presented by our President, Nick Reynolds, was Honduras El Laurel, washed bean. The notes supplied the coffee included “notes of plum and black tea are the highlights of this washed bean, which translates into a caramel-like sweetness’. It was very elegant but personally would have liked a little more dosage to give it a bit more punch.

Wine

Six wines were served all pre-poured in our restrictive mode. The first two wines meant for the entrées were the Leo Buring Leonay Watervale Riesling 2014 and the Meyer-Fonne Reserve Alsace Riesling 2013. The former was surprisingly developed and lacked some of the characteristics of the style that many know so well. Acid and lemon predominated. The Alsace I think was the better of the two with the usual tiny touch of residual sugar. It was a fine wine.

Domaine Nicolas Reau Pompois Loire Cabernet Franc 2013 started us off for the main. Opinions differed on this and I found it had a slight off stink, a touch of brett which distracted from my enjoyment. Next up was Château Peyredon Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2009 which many thought was the red wine of the day. Drinking at its peak, 2009 was a wonderful year in Bordeaux and this Bordeaux was elegant, soft and ready to go.

Others thought that the Nick O’Leary 2009 Shiraz from the Canberra district was the go-to wine for the lunch. Under screwcap, it was showing some degree of brown, but the fruit was intact and it was a very attractive wine. Finally came the Domaine J L Chave Mon Coeur Cotes du Rhone 2009. Chave is a highly respected label but despite 2009 being a very good year, the wine was let down by bretty overtones subduing the fruit. A disappointment.

All in all, an excellent lunch that once again confirmed that even with our current restrictions an enjoyable time can be had. Thanks to Nico and Jess for their efforts to present this fine lunch.