14 May 2019 - CoTD Mark Bradford

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Thanks to James Hill and Chilly Hargraves for the reviews on food and wine respectively.

Lunch today was by Chef of the Day Prof Mark Bradford with assembly assistance from Garry Linnane

Canapés. We had canapés in abundance today. First up was crostini with a tuna butter made from mascarpone, anchovies and capers with some smoked ocean trout on the crostini. The flavour was excellent. Next up were the very popular corn fritters, still warm, served with either Avocado salsa or a fruit chutney then followed warm mini quiches made with tasty cream butter and bacon.

Great starters. All worked well with our aperitif wine which we kept on serving due to a delay in working an alternative for the mash.

The 2011 Heggies Riesling was the aperitif table wine this week. At 8 years of age, it still showed fresh fruit and had avoided the tendency of many lesser Rieslings to develop kerosene characters. That said, it was very much in the buttered toast mould and was drying out a little on the palate. This is the last of this wine in our cellar and was greatly enjoyed by all (to the tune of 11 bottles). The other aperitif wine was the ever-reliable Lustau Jurana. It impressed with its freshness and depth.

Main course. Mark chose to serve a reminder of veal masala, a meal a lot of members would have had in our formative gourmet years. Unfortunately he left the celeriac puree at home, so necessity being the parent of invention, he chose to serve the meal with toast and it worked so well!

The veal was a perfect thin piece of meat with a crisp exterior and a pink centre. This was served with the usual cream, mushroom and garlic sauce although this time he separated the mushroom and reduced it to a sauce which gave it a rich and strong flavour. The mushroom was served with garlic on the toast. The green was broccolini fresh and textural.

It was a very good meal.

The Wines. One former winemaker described one of the wines as having the characteristic of red wine; colour and tannin.

There were two aged Cabernets served with the veal main course. The first, a 2009 Denmar Cabernet Sauvignon, was sourced from the renowned terra rossa soils of the Hunter Valley. While it still showed some youth with bright colour and tannin, it lacked any real distinctive varietal definition.

The second Cabernet was the 2008 Bowen. From the even more renowned terra rossa soils of Coonawarra, it impressed with its freshness and vibrancy. The regional mint and cassis were still in abundance although the house style big tannins were starting to dominate the finish. Comment was made on the alcohol level of this wine (15.0%) although it didn't express itself with any heat on the finish. A few stories brought to the fore the disappointing loss of artisans throughout the wine and food industry. These small producers, who own significant assets, are to be admired for retaining them and providing us with their individual products.

With the cheese we saw a move to much bigger wines. Both the 2011 Lowe Mudgee Blue Shiraz Cabernet and the 2014 Duval Plexus were Shiraz based and reflected an Australian preference for making this variety in the rich, ripe, tannic style. The Lowe wine was starting to show its age already and drying out and lacked the fruit balance that the 20% Cabernet might have brought. The Duval (52% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 18% Mataro), on the other hand, was still young, freshness and quite raw. It was dominated by oak and lacked the cherry and raspberry fruit that one expects from this style. It certainly needs some more time in the cellar to soften out.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane treated the room this week to a society favourite Ossau Iraty a six-month-old sheep cheese from the Basque region of France.

Ossau Iraty production is claimed to be the oldest surviving tradition in the world, with records dating back more than 4000 years. AOC controls were introduced in 1980 to protect its future production. Onetik collects milk of the Manech ewes from the shepherds of the high altitude Aldudes valley, an area where dairy production is arduous due to the steep slopes of the mountain pasture.

Ossau Iraty is a lightly pressed cheese with a washed and hand-salted rind that is matured in humid cellars for at least ninety days. The texture of the pâté is supple and oily; its flavour is generous and well-rounded delivering a nutty, fruity and almost olive-like profile. This is how we saw the cheese today.

Mark served it with crostini and black currant jam

Spencer Ferrier continued world tour of coffee this time from Rwanda East Africa. It had  a strong flavour however SF thought it a bit hard with some bitterness.

 

7 May 2019 - CoTD Paul Thorne

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Paul Thorne was in the kitchen today assisted by Matthew Holmes and Nick Reynolds.

Our three waitresses today from REX were all dressed in black and red in preparation for the REX Spanish night at the conclusion of the Wine and Food Society lunch. A nice touch for the day.

Canapés. Three canapés before the main are becoming somewhat standard and so again today we had three. First were blinis with crème fraiche and Atlantic salmon. This was followed by mini hamburgers with a filling of caramelised onion and rare beef. Possibly a better term is sliders. Finally, a cauliflower soup or consummate made from duck stock with some cardamom overtones.

The contrast between the three welcoming and the favourite of many were the rare beef sliders.

Aperitif wine. Where to start. Our aperitif today was Pittnauer Perfect Day White 2017 from Austria. It did set the cat amongst the pigeons as they say. The wine was unusual, to say the least with some bottles showing a little cloudiness. To be blunt, it was not well liked by the room and opinion differed as to whether it was faulty or whether it was deliberately made to be a little bit in the orange mode. There was a strong preference for the sherries of the day

Main course. Paul served individual chicken Maryland which had been marinated for 24 hours in buttermilk and star anise and then sou vide. This treatment led to them being succulent and tender. Accompanying the chicken was quinoa, pomegranate, sultanas and pistachios and more. There was also an accompanying relish constituted of capsicum, onion, tomato and some orange zest.

Comments were positive with the only downside being a couple of comments about the main being a little cool.

I felt it was good to be back on the chicken trail.

The Wines.

With main course

Roux Père et Fils Rully Clos des Mollepierres 2013

Pittnauer Pannobile 2014 (Austria)

The French Chardonnay at 6 years of age was drinking at its peak and was arguably the wine of the day. There was some oak evident with overtones of peach and honey. The Austrian wine from the same maker as the aperitif was a completely different kettle of fish. This wine was a blend of Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt the latter a cross of the former in the Pinot Noir style. A beautiful juicy, fresh and drinkable wine for early drinking, as we did.

A good pair

With Cheese.

Kalleske Pirathon Shiraz 2007

Nick O'Leary Shiraz 2009

The Kalleske wine suffered from major bottle variation with a couple of bottles being corked. These were replaced with other wines of a similar vintage.

The Kalleske was for me not particularly enjoyable, being jammy and extracted. Enough said. The Nick O’Leary Shiraz from Canberra district was a far superior wine. The wine had those cool climate Shiraz overtones of spiciness and freshness. A good drink.

Cheese and coffee. The treat of the day was James Healey blowing the budget and serving us the La Luna Holy Goat Brigid’s Well cheese from Castlemaine. Arguably Australia’s most expensive cheese, it is always top shelf and proved so again today. James was overseas for the next 4 weeks, so he definitely left with a bang.

Coffee. By Spencer Ferrier in absentia was from Malawi (a first?). A cooperative sourced bean, it was quite full bodied with a satisfying chocolate finish.

With Paul’s closing comments on his meal, he thanked Matthew, Nick and all staff in the kitchen including the chef, Leo.

30 April 2019 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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Our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, was in the kitchen today for his now famous Greek Easter feast for our April wine lunch. A Greek Easter feast is nothing without a plenitude of food and this lunch fitted the bill. No pun intended!

Canapés. First up Ouzo (of course) cured salmon, piped with Greek yoghurt and capers on cucumber. Followed by keftedes (Greek meatballs) from pork/beef mince mixed with mint, fresh tomato, cumin, onion and fennel seeds. The final serving was a stylish spinach cheese “circular pie”. See the images.

Aperitif wine. To start off proceedings today we had a wine that not many of us would be familiar with, a Hochkirch Riesling from the Grampians or Western district of Victoria. Not a typical Australian Riesling, it was quite full bodied in the mouth, oh so slightly off-dry and a little Alsatian in style. Another Riesling style that divided the room, but I thought a great style to show off yet another vein of what is possible with Riesling in Australia from the multitude of areas in which it is grown.

Main course. Greek Easter = lamb, stupid. Ah, but not a big lump of protein. The lamb was a seven-hour slow roasted lamb shoulder served with and an eggplant and olive stew, spanokorizo (spinach rice), tiropites (cheese triangles) with feta, cheddar, parmesan and egg filling.

Bill had pressed the lamb overnight with bricks to ensure it could be cut and served in serviceable pieces rather than in the slow-cooked pulled meat style. In any case, very tasty lamb well set with the sides.

The Wines.

  • Charles Melton Cabernet 2008
  • Chateau Villa Bel-Air 2008
  • Chateau La Serre 2009
  • Gaja Sito Moresco Langhe 2009
  • Lindemans St George Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
  • Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

Dealing with the wine in pairs, the Charles Melton was pretty much what you would expect from the wine. 2008 was a good year and was a very rich Cabernet showing much ripeness. The Château Villa Bel-Air from Graves was 50% Merlot and could be described as very Bordeaux. Dry, plush and enjoyable.

The Chateau La Serre from St Emilion experienced significant bottle variation. Mine had some stink with the fruit almost totally stripped out. However, after poking my nose into a glass from another table it was again a typical robust Bordeaux wine from the right bank. Whilst not unanimous around the room, the Gaja Sito Langhe from Piedmont was my favoured wine of the day. Not your usual Langhe, the wine, was approximately equal components of Nebbiolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins of the Nebbiolo and the savoury characters were very evident. Drinking beautifully.

The final two wines were Australian classics and the Bin 407 at 22 years of age was looking a little tired (or at least the bottle I tried) but still drinking well. The St George at a similar age was in good condition, although the fruit was starting to recede. It was for many the wine of the day.

With the exception of the Charles Melton all wines today were under cork.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey had selected a Meredith goat curd cheese for today. Quite a delicate cheese, it comes in a container where one can spoon it out for spreading on bread. Not the favourite of many, but certainly an interesting variation to our normal weekly cheese.

Coffee. Spencer today provided us with one of his favourite beans, Kenya AA. It also happens to be the favourite of many in the room and it did not let us down with its medium sweet characteristics.

One can simply not finish a Greek feast without accompaniments. Bill provided us with rose water and almond Greek delights, koolouria (Greek Easter biscuits), dried figs and of course a digestive, Masticha from chios and lime.

The feast was true to name, and a good time was had by all. A great effort Bill.

23 April 2019 - CoTD Jason Hannah (William Blue Dining)

 

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Thanks to James Hill and Chilly Hargraves for the reviews on food and wine respectively.

In our first mixed lunch of the year, we had sixty plus members and guests attend. Our executive chef of the day, Immediate Past President Keith Steele, organised his mate Jason Hannah from William Blue Dining to prepare us lunch. Jason is the Executive Chef and Head Teacher of the William Blue Dining training facility for apprentice chefs and the hospitality industry. Jason was assisted by Jack his senior support at WBD.

Canapés.

We had an abundance of canapés today the first from Keith Steele, chorizo and red wine. This was followed by Canadian seared scallops cooked with ponzu, mirin, white soy and lemon juice. Juicy and plump perfectly cooked they were a delight as was the chicken liver parfait on brioche with pickles of onion, caperberry and gherkins. All were made in house and were of full of flavour with great texture and some comment was made on portion size.

All canapés were well matched with our aperitif champagne.

Aperitif wine.

The central table was heaving today with the weight of a dozen bottles of the rosé champagne from Aubert et Fils. Although a rather simple fruit driven style, as explained by our wine master, it had developed additional layers of complexity after 12 months in our cellars.

A range of other wines was brought to the table. It was a selection from those we have seen over the last weeks, so we won’t discuss them. Enough said that they were well received by those who’s preference was towards still wines.

Main course. Jason and Jack cooked lamb two ways firstly 'lamb croustillant' which is Iranian brik pastry stuffed with lamb neck ragu and roasted lamb rump accompanied by

vegetable dauphinoise of carrot, potato, turnip, kohlrabi and Parmesan, heirloom carrots and asparagus. One part of the dish that had us intrigued was a pickled turnip cut in half and pickled with cloves and juniper, it was a perfect acid balance for the lamb. Served simply with a chicken bone brown jus made on the day. Looked great on the plate and better on the palate. Delicious!

The Wines.

With main course

Blue Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 14% alcohol

Ebenezer Shiraz Barossa Valley 2005 14.5% alcohol.

The two reds served with the lamb course were quite different in style and had quite different appeal to separate tables in the room. The 2009 Blue Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon surprised by its youth and vigour. The varietal characters of cassis and plum were reminiscent of northern climes. With an excellent fine grain tannin finish, it was a great wine match to the main course.

The other red, the 2005 Ebenezer Shiraz, was a good expression of an aged, warm climate Barossa Shiraz. It had the expected rich fruit and vanilla oak. Preferred by many tables, it was probably moving into its third plenitude with the tannins starting to take over the finish.

A few larger tables benefited from the 2007 Calo Reserva Tempranillo. A Rioja in the modern style with still fresh fruit and fine tannins, it was another good match, although some found the oak was too dominant on the finish.

With Cheese.

Mauro Molina Barbera d'Asti from La Morra Italy 2015 14% alc.

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cote du Rhone 2009 14% alc.

A couple of lighter reds were served with the Pyengana cheese. The 2015 Mauro Molino Barbera d’Asti had the expected bright cherry and acid with soft tannins. There was an earthy richness to the palate a little closed by some reduction. Being under cork (Diam) it was starting to show its age.

The firmer of the two was the 2009 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône with its lovely aromas of raspberry and spice. The palate was all black cherry and spice with typical firm, dry Rhône tannins.

To finish the meal, we received 500 ml bottles of 2010 Château Aydie sweet white from the Gascony region in southwest France. This rare appellation is the unusually named Pacherenc du Vic Bilh. Made from the white variety Petit Manseng it had a pleasant mix of ripe fruit flavours and botrytis. While not as luscious as Sauternes, it certainly had the desired richness.

Cheese and coffee. Our Cheesemaster James Healey provided us with Pyengana cloth bound cheddar from Tasmania which came to the table at a perfect temperature with good texture and crumbly structure with an aroma of herbs and honey.

Coffee. By Spencer Ferrier. The coffee was Bali God Mountain, a gentle full flavoured premium coffee and Oolong tea, an aromatic style of green tea which leads tannin and more flavour. Thanks also go to Spencer for volunteering to round up enough bread for us on the day as that it was one thing left off the checklist.

Keith invited Jason Hannah to talk to the food produced for us today and he advised that he had taken a table for his family and friends with parents-in-law joining us from New York.

It was a great day with many continuing the enjoyment of the day at the bar of the Royal Exchange.

16 April 2019 - CoTD Hal Epstein

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Food notes James Hill

Wine notes Charles ‘Chilly’ Hargrave

Hal Epstein was in the kitchen today for our sixth and final Chef of the Year cook-off.

He was assisted in the kitchen by James Hill.

Canapés. Hal and James provided us with two canapés today. The first, by James, was a chicken and lemongrass meatloaf served with lettuce, cucumber, coriander and mint. It was served two ways, with toasted croutons and on spoons. An interesting canapé that had residual heat from chili and sriracha glaze. The inspiration for this dish is the Vietnamese Ban Mi sandwich. Next was Hal's prawn balls made with prawn, coriander and shallot, seasoned and dipped in flour. Egg whites and bread crumbs were used for the bind with a dipping sweet chilli sauce. They were plump and delicious with great flavour and well commented on by members as most of the canapé was prawn with no extra filling

All the canapés were spicy and popular and a challenge for an aperitif wine however the Pikes held up well.

Aperitif wine. The aperitif wine today 2009 Pikes Traditionale Riesling. Pikes always make a fruit forward style, and this was no exception. After 10 years it had showed definitive fruit and some freshness and showing more brown lime than fresh lime. And certainly, no petroleum characters. Perhaps best drunk a few years ago, it was still lively on the palate, although there was a little bottle variation.

La Guita Manzanilla. We’re back to some fresh sherry with this wine. Lovely purity with its traditional tangy, salty dryness. A long finish with nutty flor notes and a refreshing minerality.

Main Course. Rather than show us the rabbit dish that Hal was nominated for as CoTY contender he took us on a tour and taste of Thailand.

Today we had Homok a traditional dish (steamed fish pudding) cooked in coconut milk with spices and herbs something rarely available in Sydney Thai restaurants. The fish Hal used was monkfish and served in paper parcels.

The accompanying dishes were:

Thai Yum sei Nam Prik (Yum = salad tossed with spicy sauce) again spicy with traditional ingredients. Nam Prik is on every restaurant table in Thailand as salt and pepper is here.

Kao Nieo Sticky rice white with some black mixed in this helped to counteract spiciness.

Favourably commented on and enjoyed by all, the heat wasn't overwhelming, and we had a great balance of flavour, spice and texture in the meal.

The Wines.

Main course

2015 Pressing Matters Riesling R9. Rather closed with hints of lime and apricot. It had a pleasant sugar/acid balance although a little more richness would have carried the sweetness further. Nevertheless, it went extremely well with the lightly spiced main.

2012 Triennes Rosé. I personally believe this one of the best rosé producers in Provence. There is a wonderful savoury complexity from its mix of Cinsault and Grenache. While we are encouraged to drink rosés in their youth, the freshness of this wine reflected its prestigious Burgundian pedigree. With its fruit and dryness, it was another excellent companion to the main.

Cheese 

2006 Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay. Although perhaps a little mature in flavour, this Chardonnay still had the right weight and texture to complement the Burgundian cheese. The oak was a little separate to the fruit having been made in what we might call the ‘old style’.

2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir. Another Burgundy variety to match the origin of the fromage. We had this wine not that long again, perhaps it was the cheese, but there seemed a slight volatility which, with the toasty oak, masked the fruit. The palate, however, had a very good flavour, texture and length that easily carried the fat of the cheese.

Cheese. 

James Healey presented a Delice de Bourgogne, a pasteurised cow's milk from Burgundy. Served at room temperature it was a challenge to section.

Described as a decadent triple cream incredibly rich with a buttery sweet interior with a slight sour note on the finishing palate.

Iggy’s bread went well with the cheese.

Hal made a quince paste (now in season) to accompany the cheese. Hal mentioned that he had miscalculated the cooking time and the paste was somewhat caramelised. It didn't detract from the flavour.

Coffee.

Spencer continued our African journey this time with coffee from Malawi, it had a medium to light flavour a little tannin, good drinking.

9 April 2019 - Paul Irwin CoTD

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Paul Irwin was cooking for us today and was assisted by Steve Liebeskind. Again, a very good attendance at 45.

Canapés. Between the two of them, we were served three canapés today. Having only the opportunity to try one, the following is a direct description from Paul:

  • Citrus cured tuna, with a touch of fish sauce, coriander and some red pepper. Also added a touch of sesame oil to round out the palate and counteract some of the acids.
  • Mushroom pate, which was a 48-hour sous vide mushroom, cooked with butter, thyme, butter, brandy, butter and some seasoning. I then added some butter to round it out and fit with the Riesling we were no doubt going to start with.
  • Beetroot relish by Steve Liebeskind, which had some star anise and other spices to give it some savouriness and paired with a sheep’s cheese.

All three were beautifully presented and the comments from the floor were complimentary. I tasted the beetroot relish and thought that the star anise, a wonderful spice, added depth to this combination.

Main Course. Sous vide played a role in both the canapés and the main course the latter using lamb backstrap as the protein. The first impression was the picture-perfect presentation. As always, all the images are on the website and some in the lunch report, which all members receive.

The lamb backstrap was sous vide and coated in salted leek ash. The leek ash was carbonised, and it left all commentators puzzled as to the origin. This was served with “hasselbacked” beets (very accurately sliced) with sour cream and sumac, a smoked eggplant baba ganoush underneath the meat, roast carrots (cooked with lemon, cinnamon and cumin), and a blanched broccolini.

The visuals of this dish were excellent. As you would expect with sous vide the meat was perfectly cooked with pink from the centre to the carbonised leek exterior. The dish looked good and tasted good.

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Heggies Riesling 2011

Valdespino Inocente Fino

Valdespino La Guita Manzanilla

That Riesling was in fine condition and though under screwcap there a was a little bottle variation but only with the colour not so much the condition. It was quite a firm wine with minerality present. The comments were very positive.

Main and cheese:

Yalumba Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Yalumba Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Terre a Terre Crayeres Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Wrattonbully) 2014

Chateau Belloy (Canon-Fronsac) 2010

The two Yalumba wines were an interesting comparison and both were in the Coonawarra Cabernet style with some mint evident. The 2009 showed a little bit more “age” on the meniscus and a slight extractive element and the 2008 was preferred by many. Both are drinking at their peak and were a fine match in the time-honoured style for Australian lamb.

The Cabernet Franc from Australia and the Right Rank Bordeaux were a distinct change of style. The Cabernet Franc was a little controversial. Some loved it and there those who decidedly did not like it. I thought it an extraordinarily easy drinking wine with clean, bright and crisp perfume with weight, but not too much, in the Australian style. The Château Belloy was a typical 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc and had some of the Bordeaux power that you would expect from the Right Bank. A solid wine with good tannin structure.

Cheese and coffee. James served us today a Berry’s Creek Riverine Blue, which was particularly deceiving to the room given it was buffalo milk. It left many guessing. It had a beautiful soft creamy mouthfeel with intense blue/green portions and was much enjoyed.

The coffee from Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Yirgacheffe a stone’s throw away from the origin of the coffee from the previous week. A full flavoured coffee with sweet overtones.

Another excellent lunch.

2 April 2019 - CoTD Gary Linnane

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Gary Linnane stepped in as Chef of the Day at short notice and was assisted by James Hill with canapés and Bill Alexiou-Hucker jumping into the kitchen to assist with plating. 46 members and guests attended. What a wonderful number for a non-wine luncheon.

Canapés. If there is one thing that most Australian males can scoff down with a beer or wine, it’s a great sausage roll. God’s comfort food! Gary produced a goodly number of miniature sausage rolls which were cooked perfectly and very tasty though they could have been a little warmer, but I believe that was due to a timing issue with serving. Next up was a canape prepared by James Hill which was smoked duck sausage charcuterie served on some wonderful Iggy’s bread. Underneath each piece of sausage was either some quince or pear paste. The paste added another dimension to the duck and was a big success.

Main Course. Saint Peter may be a religious icon, but today we were treated to Saint Peter of Oxford Street seafood sausages which was a repeat of a successful lunch from Gary in 2018. The sausages are made daily with seafood of the day and today we had sausages with ocean trout, snapper, ling, onion and assorted seasonings.

The sausages were served with colcannon, crispy bacon bits and a Marie Rose source. One comment thought the sauce was too strong for the seafood, but this was an isolated comment. All in all, the dish was much loved by our audience and it was suggested that it may become the annual festival of the seafood sausages.

The Wines.

Aperitif:

St Huberts Chardonnay 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

The St Huberts was supplemented by a couple of odd bottles but was the main aperitif wine. At 6 years of age it was hanging in there but had a quite broad Australian Chardonnay style profile. The wine had not lost fruit nor was oxidised (under screwcap) but was a wine that needed to be consumed now.

Main and cheese:

Craggy Range Chardonnay 2010

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2010

Denmar Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Bress Shiraz 2009

The 2010 pair were served with the main, a good pair. The New Zealand Chardonnay is of great pedigree and with 8 years of age, it was still pale and showing a good acid/fruit balance and was in peak condition. This would never be mistaken for a Chablis with its very rich fruit but was an excellent Southern Hemisphere Chardonnay.

The Coldstream Hills Pinot was showing remarkably well for an entry-level Australian Pinot Noir. It was showing some browning and it had the typical sweetness of an Australian Pinot but with some restraint. It could not be mistaken for anything but Pinot Noir and had a nice intensity of fruit and ready to drink now.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey had for us today. The familiar black cloth Maffra Cheddar from Gippsland in Victoria. It was between aged between 12 to 18 months. The cheddar is quite soft with a little bit of crumbling evident and it was beautifully creamy. The cheese was served with a fruit bread which provided an interesting variation.

The coffee from Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Guji. The Guji region is between Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, both coffees we have enjoyed before. It had sweet fruit overtones and was silky smooth.

We enjoyed two birthday wines with coffee and cheese today. Thanks and happy birthday to Peter Manners for his Cockburn Fine Tawny and to out CoTD for his Yalumba Antique Tawny Museum Reserve.

Gary closed the Masters' comments giving us some details about Saint Peter and its produce.

Another good lunch.

26 March 2019 - CoTD Nick Reynolds

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Fifty members sat down to the March wine lunch this week prepared by Nick Reynolds as Chef of the Year cook-off number 5. Nick as assisted on canapés by Bill Alexiou-Hucker. Nick summed up the meal as a vegetarian event which given the population of the room, received full agreement. However, the eggs may not meet the standards of others who would never be a part of our Society.

Canapés. The first canapé was “fancy” filo tartlets with baby cucumber, home-made hummus and cherry tomato slice. Look at the photograph to see why the word fancy was used. This was followed by hollow cucumber bases with olive tapenade and home-made baba ganoush.

Main Course. Nick had promised us a repeat of his double cooked soufflé which was so popular last year. The souffle was double cooked using blue cheese including Gorgonzola and Roquefort sauce served with a salad of baby spinach, kumara, feta cheese, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, eschallots and red capsicum with a white balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette.

As in 2018, the dish was lovely. One member commented (I paraphrase) that most of us would not do two at home and 50 is just crazy.

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Wairau River Albarino 2016

Hugel Riesling 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

The aperitif wines had a clear winner in the Hugel Riesling. Whilst their entry-level wine, it is always good value and yet again showcases the world's most underrated grape. The Albarino which has been served once or twice before was a bit flat and needed a little more acid to get me excited.

Main and cheese:

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012 (five vintages)

Wynns Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

The Wynns black label would have to be one of Australia’s most loved labels and was first released in 1954. It would also be one of the most collectable wines with many in the room having multiple vintages in the cellar. In recent years, the Black Label has continued to improve under the stewardship of Sue Hodder at Wynns.

As befits the sort of people we are, there was a lot of different opinions about each bottle but of course, there was bottle variation.

1998 – At release claimed to be the vintage of the century as with many 1998 wines from South Australia, it disappointed. The wine was not bad from what is now considered to be a lesser vintage, the fruit had faded with some extraction evident.

2004 – this was the last of the label to be bottled under cork and it was drinking well with all the attributes of both the Black Label and Coonawarra. Balanced, clean and drinkable.

2006 – this was the firmest wine of the group and only one of two of the Black Label at 14% alcohol. At its peak, drink.

2008 – 2008 was a warm vintage and there were signs of over-ripeness matched with a grippy finish. It may improve.

2012 – beginning to drink well with tannins softening already. This is a very clean and balanced wine. With well-presented and typical Coonawarra Cabernet overtones.

Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 – some of us thought that tannin was starting to dominate although the structure of the wine was good. There was much difference of opinion and some loved it and one of our knowledgeable wine men suggested it could do with another 10 years ageing.

This was a fascinating tasting and Paul Ferman was thanked for the theme. No matter what each taster thought of each vintage (and there were large variations), the tasting reinforced what most of us think of the Wynns black label. It must be borne in mind that the prices of this wine have barely risen over the years and possibly decades as opposed to its stablemates at Penfolds which have seen dramatic price increases over the past 5 to 10 years.

Cheese and coffee.

Due to the unavailability of the original cheese, James was given only short notice to change horses and he served a Merco Mucia al Vino, a Spanish goats milk cheese. Apparently, it is matured with a natural rind for a minimum 45 days during which it is washed with local red wine which is very high in tannin. It had mild to mid fruity flavour and buttery texture but was not one of the members favourite cheeses served in recent times.

Mixed nuts accompanied cheese.

Spencer Ferrier (in absentia) continued his world coffee tour with Kenyon AA beans today. This has been one of my favourite coffees and today was no different.

Nick thanked Bill and our in-house chef, Leo, for their assistance in the Chef of the Year cook-off.

Brian Sproule closed the lunch reminiscing about the lunches of 50 years ago with other members present at this lunch and the changes that had been brought.

19 March 2019 - CoTD Josef Condrau

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Thanks to James Hill for his review of the lunch

Josef Condrau was in the kitchen today for our fourth Chef of the Year cook-off.

Canapés. Joseph provided us with three canapés today. The first was blinis topped with salmon roe and creme fraiche. Then followed two different terrines on a baguette the first a pork, duck and cranberry terrine topped with gherkin and the second Iberico pate (Iberico is the famous Spanish black pig) made from pork belly and pork liver with sherry.

All the canapés were tasty and popular and were a good match for the aperitif wine.

Aperitif wine. The aperitif wine today was the Tyrrell's Vat 4 Stevens Semillon 2007. This wine under screwcap was in excellent condition green and gold in colour with fresh citrus and floral characters. The palate showed citrus with great length and acid finish. It showed how well wine can keep under Stelvin.

Members welcomed back a more approachable Sherry, Valdespino Inocente Fino.

Main Course. The day was coolish and a perfect day for a rack of lamb that had been frenched and then baked with garlic, fresh mint and Dijon mustard. The lamb was tenderly cooked just beyond the rare stage. The meat was tender, succulent and a joy. It was served with baked cherry tomatoes with basil, green beans with bacon and fried polenta sticks (the polenta was done with parmesan and then reheated in the oven). Presentation was colourful red yellow and green, the tomatoes and beans crunchy and good. Some thought that perhaps a jus to accompany the meat was needed but the depth of flavour and perfect cooking of the lamb showed it wasn't required. It was one of the most perfect serves of lamb the room has seen and tasted. The lamb was sourced from Vic’s meat and they advised it is obtained from Tasmania.

Well done Josef.

The Wines.

Main course

Alva Castro Dao from Portugal 2009 cork 13% alcohol a blend of Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. A smart wine with sweet fruit character and acid to match the dish.

 Trapio Yecla (Spanish) the is 100% Monastrell grapes from 2008 under cork with 15% alcohol. 

This Monastrell is from free-standing vineyards over 50 years old. Intense cherry red colour, with complex aromas of leather, liquorice, tobacco and minerals, with a wide mouth and a long and intense roasted end. It was well made with great flavour.

While Cabernet is normally the wine we associate and prefer with lamb these wines showed up very well.

Cheese 

We were fortunate today to be able to try both a white and red wine from Priorat in Spain.

Clos Figueras 2016 a Priorat blend of white grapes of Viognier, white Grenache and Chenin Blanc under cork 15% A great textured mouthfeel and acid finish.

Marco Abella Liodana Priorat 2013 under cork 2013 blend of Garnacha and Carignan 14.5% showed red and black fruit flavours and delicate spice notes. Elegant and balanced.

Both wines complemented the cheese.

Cheese 

James Healey presented a Le Gruyere Swiss gruyere unpasteurised (raw) cow's milk.

It came to the table in perfect condition. The pate is slightly grainy with the wonderful complexity of flavours at first fruity then revealing earthy, nutty and sweet characteristics that linger on the palate. Josef served some ripe pear and dates with the cheese.

Coffee

Spencer showed us decaf Columbian coffee that had some Swiss magic in the process that kept the coffee strongly flavoured and full bodied.

 

12 March 2019 - CoTD James Hill

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Lunch 12 March 2019

Some 52 members and guests attended this cook-off number 3 by our frequent flyer Chef of the Day, James Hill. The two words ‘duck pie’ may explain the popularity. James was assisted in the kitchen by our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, and assisted on the canapés by Nick Reynolds.

Canapés. Not mucking around with two canapés, there were three starters today. First off were Queensland scallops on a purée of sweet corn, golden shallots, garlic, butter and wine. The comments around the room were very positive, especially about the texture of the scallops being ‘just cooked’. Next up was a simple ‘salami on a stick’ which fully describes this very tasty piece of cured sausage. Origin unknown. The third involved Iggy’s bread as is so often the case with James. Amazing bread. Today it was a capsicum (sort of) paste, called Ajvar. More of a relish, but with full and spicy flavours. From Google, for our education:

Ajvar is made of roasted or cooked peppers. Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot (ljutenica). Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish. There are a few variations of ajvar. If it contains tomato, then it is called pindjur or if it contains eggplant is called malidzano.

Main Course. Finally, a break from seafood. The duck ragu that James used as the heart of his pies was based on a Terry Durack recipe. The ragu filling had the usual carrots, onions, spices et cetera et cetera. The 50+ pies were handmade on the morning of this lunch and were served on a base of green pea purée with poached radishes on the side. The appearance of the dish was pleasing and defined simplicity. The ragu had a depth of flavour reflecting the long cooking time with vegetables and other ingredients. The jus was the icing on the cake.

The comment of the day was ‘chips would have made it better’!

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Morin Sancerre 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

 

Main and cheese:

Mauro Molino Barbera 2015

Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre (Veronese) IGT 2011

Vasse Felix Filius Cab Merlot 2013 (not tasted for this review)

Craggy Range Syrah 2008

Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot Minervois La Ciaude 2012 (not tasted for this review)

Given the large numbers at the lunch, no two tables had the same suite of wines and so the five listed above were some of the more common shared amongst tables.

The Allegrini wine was really a Valpolicella but not legally. It had a touch of Sangiovese thrown in with the usual Corvina and Rondinella which made it a “non-complying” wine of the area and hence an Indicazione Geografica Tipica or IGT. By no means is that a reason to think second rate. Some of Italy’s best wines are IGT’s. At 8 years of age, it was a medium-bodied style with a light fruitiness as befits Valpolicella. The wine has probably started down the incline and would have been better a couple of years ago, but still very enjoyable.

The 2015 Barbera was in wonderful shape. Behind the worship associated with Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Barbera runs number two in red varieties. Mauro is a very good maker and this wine was lean, aromatic with intensive flavours. A very good wine from a very good year.

Possibly the best wine of the day, which was shared by all tables, was the Craggy Range Syrah 2008. This Gimblett Gravels wine whilst not a skinny weakling was highly refined with length and power followed up with a white pepper character. This is one of New Zealand’s best wines and you can see why.

Whilst I did not taste the Vasse Felix or the and Anna Gros wines, I would imagine that the Minervois would have been the better of the two having had it on many occasions.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey had selected a Rhône Alpes cheese for us today, a Beaufort, the producer being Thones. This cheese lit up the faces of all around the room and whilst our suppliers apparently under delivered the quantity, there was sufficient of this beautiful cow’s milk cheese to go around. James commented that as it was lighter in colour and hence probably the winter version of the cheese. The price of Beaufort is in the very top echelon of imported cheese into Australia and you can see why.

A simple salad accompanied the cheese and as usual, bought comments about salad being served at all. Tradition lads!

Spencer Ferrier today served us Monsoon Malabar Arabica coffee and explained the background to its name. We have had this coffee before but not for some time. It is very full flavoured and ideal for those of us who only drink coffee sans dairy.

James summed up his meal and the cooking part of the day and thanked Leo and Bill for their let’s get into this job attitude. He also thanks Nick for the meticulous work in preparing three canapés for over 50 people.

Well done guys for a very good lunch.