Aqua Dining – 50th Anniversary Celebration, Wednesday, 4 May 2016

What a superb restaurant and view to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Ladies Wine & Food Society. The weather could not have been any better than the warm, early autumn day Sydney turned on. It was a great pleasure for 27 members and 24 guests to stand on the balcony of the restaurant and look at the wonderful view of the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the swimmers below in the North Sydney pool, whilst sipping on NV Charles Pelletier Grande Reserve Blanc de Blancs and enjoying canapes.

View from Balcony

View from Balcony

On the balcony

On the balcony

Flowers on each table

Flowers on each table

The occasion of the 50th anniversary was taken to award a certificate to 5 members of the society for their contribution to the service of the society and for the huge task of organising the Victor Gibson weekend in Sydney a few years ago. One of the 5 members was awarded Honorary Life Membership for her 27 years dedication to the society.

Members receiving awards

Members receiving awards


The entrees, served alternately, were :
Moreton Bay Bug, turnip, buckwheat, apple
Spatchcock, daikon, black garlic, eggplant
Moreton Bay Bug

Moreton Bay Bug

Spatchcock

Spatchcock

The Moreton Bay Bug was the more favourite of the entrees, even scoring some 10’s ! This entree was rated as perfect, with a delicate flavour and a charcoal finish.
The deboned breasts of spatchcock had a great meld of flavours but was considered too salty.

The main course was a choice of 3 :
Spanish Mackerel, beetroot jus, fennel pollen
Wagyu beef, porcini puree, salt baked leek
Lamb rump, goat curd, bok choy, orange

Spanish mackerel

Spanish mackerel

Wagyu Beef, porcini puree

Wagyu Beef, porcini puree


Lamb Rump

Lamb Rump


The Wagyu dish was the most favoured with great flavours on the plate. The spanish mackerel had been soaked in milk to take away the strong oily flavour and the resulting delicate taste of the fish was elevated by the beetroot jus. Unfortunately, the fish had been overcooked. The lamb dish was not selected by too many at this lunch.
The accompanying sides were – Cos lettuce, walnut, pane carasau, buttermilk dressing, and a favourite, Royal Blue roast potatoes, rosemary.

The desserts were served alternate as well :
Banana mousse, salted caramel, caffe latte gel
Warm chocolate cake, mixed berries

Banana mousse

Banana mousse

Warm Chocolate cake

Warm Chocolate cake


The desserts were evenly rated. The banana mousse had delicate flavours of caramel and banana with a hint of coffee. The warm chocolate cake was considered more of a fondant and was a strong chocolate dessert.

The wines on the day were :
2015 Aramis Chardonnay – Adelaide Hills, SA
2012 Aramis Shiraz – McLaren Vale, SA
2013 Cielo ‘Kasaura’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Italy

The wines were enjoyed and it was felt they matched well with the food. The Shiraz was appreciated much more than the Italian Montepulciano as the Italian wine was considered to be more acidic and did not present a great depth of taste.

An enjoyable day to celebrate a milestone occasion.

Restaurant view

Restaurant view

This entry was posted on May 11, 2016.

Zahli Lebanese restaurant, Wednesday 6 April 2016

The April lunch was organised by Annie Straiton where 24 members and 1 guest were treated to a middle eastern feast of the best dishes from the history of Lebanese cooking.
The traditional dishes we tried were given a new lease of life in the fresh, contemporary environment of Zahli.
The food was presented on a shared basis, and although shared plates are not to everyone’s liking, all who attended were able to sample the fresh middle eastern food offered to us.

We started the day off with a Moh’s Cocktail – a mix of lemon, lime and soda water. A refreshing start to the day.

Starters consisted of 3 traditional dips :

Hommos, baba ghannouj and labneh. Served with Pita crisps that had been deep fried and sprinkled with spices.
These dips were very fresh and the baba ghannouj rated excellent.

Hommus

Hommus

The next course was hot mezza :
Spinach pastry filled with spinach, onion and sumac
Fried Kibbeh – a shell of ground meat and crushed wheat filled with finely minced meat, onions, pinenuts, and spices
Ladies fingers – filo pastry filled with feta cheese and parsley
Everyone enjoyed the hot mezza but the only adverse comment being that the ladies fingers were too salty, which would have been the type of feta used.

Spinach pastry

Spinach pastry

Fried Kibbeh

Fried Kibbeh

Ladies fingers

Ladies fingers

Next came the Tabbouli salad – parsley, mint, tomato, shallots, crushed wheat and
Fattoush salad – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mint, parsley, crisp bread, sumac and pomegranate molasses

Comments on the salads were that the Fattoush was very good but the Tabbouli did not have enough cracked wheat.

Fattoush salad with breads

Fattoush salad with breads

The main course was a mixture of grilled skewers :
Kafta – grilled minced Lamb with parsley and onion
Lahem mishwee – grilled tender Lamb marinated in mixed spices
Shish tawook – chargrilled chicken breast marinated in garlic, lemon juice and mixed spices

The grills were all different, the meat was moist and the marinades and spices added to the flavour. The skewers were served with a strong garlic flavoured dip.

P1000401

The dessert was a platter of middle eastern delights :
Turkish delight
Baklavas
Namoura – semolina coconut slice with orange blossom syrup

These sweets were very fresh and the turkish delight was a little chewy due to the type of gelatine used.

Platter of sweets

Platter of sweets

Wines on the day :
2014 Krinklewood Wild White Semillon & Verdelho Hunter Valley – Certified Organic
2014 Robert Oatley (signature series) Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 60/30/10 blend

The white wine matched well with the dips and pastries and the red wine, whilst a little closed in the glass initially, opened up in time and became very presentable.

There were comments on the rationing of the food but it is hard not to ration items when the food is presented piecemeal, which is typical of middle eastern food where the table is shared.
There were favourable comments on the subtle and distinctive flavours of all the spices and herbs used in the cooking.

Not all food items had descriptions noted on the menu as members were encouraged to guess ingredients. The red wine was masked as well.

A good lunch in a convivial atmosphere in a modern restaurant.

Decor of Zahli

Decor of Zahli

Zahli

Zahli

This entry was posted on April 12, 2016.

‘one ford street’, Balmain, Wednesday 2 March 2016

The March lunch was organised by Jen Dowling and Christine Witter in the Italian restaurant on the corner of Ford and Darling Streets, Balmain.
17 members and 5 guests attended the lunch which commenced with a refreshing Val Piana Prosecco on arrival.
All of the dishes were served as shared plates.
The menu for the day was :
Starters :
Tomato salad, farinata, goats cheese, cipollini, balsamic
Kingfish carpaccio
Dad’s smoked trout pate on toast

Tomato salad

Tomato salad

The tomato dish was outstanding as the tomatoes had the freshness of being just picked and bursting with flavour – which can only be found in home grown tomatoes.

Kingfish Carpaccio

Kingfish Carpaccio

Market fish carpaccio has been on a lot of menus this summer and this Kingfish Carpaccio was a fresh, tasty example.
The smoked trout was a little salty but went well with the tomatoes.
Pasta :
Cheese mezzelune, nettles, kale, zucchini
Tagliatelle, clams, acqua pazza, bottarga

Cheese mezzelune

Cheese mezzelune


This dish had a tempting aroma of mint and nettles as well as a verdant green colour. The mezzeluna was stuffed with three cheeses – fresh mozzarella, smoked parmesan and ricotta.
Along with the fresh zucchini this was a well balanced dish of garden fresh vegetables and cheeses.
Tagliatelle, clams

Tagliatelle, clams

Unfortunately, this dish was served a little too cold and the clams had been overcooked, but the overall flavour of the seafood and acqua pazza was tasty.

Mains :
Snapper, chicory, mussels, tarragon
Bbq Spatchcock, eggplant, baby leeks, gravy

Snapper, chicory, mussels, tarragon

Snapper, chicory, mussels, tarragon


The snapper had been cooked perfectly and was surrounded by the great herb flavours. Some felt the chickpeas spread around the mussels were surplus to the dish, whereas others liked the way the chickpeas absorbed the beautiful flavours and added texture to the dish.

BBQ Spatchcock

BBQ Spatchcock


This dish had smoky bbq flavours but should have had more vegetables, especially the well loved vegetable – eggplant.
Desserts :
Neapolitano
Dropped chessecake, cinnamon, chocolate, berry

Neapolitano ice cream

Neapolitano ice cream


The neapolitano was freshly made but comments were that “I could have made the same at home”.
Dropped Cheesecake

Dropped Cheesecake


Not a lot of flavour in this dish – tasted more like cream than cheeesecake.

Wines on the day :
Val Piana Prosecco
2014 La Tanella Pinot Grigio
2013 Piazzano Chianti

The Pinot Grigio was a crisp aromatic wine well matched with the starters and seafood.
The chianti was well balanced and matched well with both the fish and the spatchcock dish.

This meal was full of all the great Italian flavours and will receive return visits from our ladies.
A great venue, with friendly and attentive staff.

Chef in the open kitchen

Chef in the open kitchen

This entry was posted on March 18, 2016.

Public Dining Room, Balmoral Beach, Wednesday 3 February 2016

The first lunch for the year could not have been held in a restaurant with a better view than Public Dining at Balmoral Beach.
On a sunny summer day 32 members and 1 guest attended the February lunch.
The menu consisted of a choice of 4 entrees and 4 mains with a side of Darling Mills salad
Entrees :
Fried Zucchini flowers, parmesan, Irish blue, ricotta, pink pepper, celeriac, savoy cabbage salad
Hiramasa Kingfish carpaccio, macadamia milk, smoked bread, ponzu, radish, finger lime
Seared scallops, cauliflower textures, semi-dried grapes, vadouvan
Crispy Pork Belly, jowl croquette, carrot & orange puree, black garlic, bronze fennel

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops


Hiramasa Kingfish

Hiramasa Kingfish

The entree of the day was the Seared Scallops and chosen by 50% of the ladies.
The plump scallops were perfectly cooked to the right texture and retained their moisture.
One comment – ‘Scallops were like velvet sitting on a bed of lovely surprises’. The wonderful surprises being the spices and curry leaves.
The next favourite entree was the Zucchini flowers and rated highly – even some 10’s.

Mains :
Cornfed Chicken, roast corn, pancetta and farro fricassee, baby spinach and truffle jus
Tasmanian pasture fed eye fillet, king brown mushrooms, caramelised onion puree, cavolo nero, potato crisp
Pan fried Barramundi, alaskan king crab, kohlrabi remoulade, spring asparagus, lemon pangrattato, horseradish, wild nettle puree
Strozzapetri, Queensland king prawns, clams, chilli, peas, baby zucchini, cavalo nero, sardinian bottarga

Seared Barramundi

Seared Barramundi

Pasture Fed Eye Fillet

Pasture Fed Eye Fillet

Strozzapetri, Qld King Prawns

Strozzapetri, Qld King Prawns

The outstanding main dish was the Barramundi, which was perfectly cooked (still moist). The accompanying crab was very good and nettle puree was a perfect bed for the fish.
The Tasmanian pasture fed eye fillet was cooked to order on each plate and contained wonderful contrasting sweet, sour, salty flavours on the palate.
A generous serve of good meat with a rich sauce.

The wines on the day were :
NV Croser, Adelaide Hills SA
2014 Isabel Chardonnay, Marlborough, NZ
2015 Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir TAS

The Croser was a nice start to the day and the Chardonnay was pleasant, and not over – wooded.
The comments on the Pinot Noir ranged from matched well with the steak, to a quaffing wine !
The overall comments were that the restaurant served fantastic fresh produce, delicious sauces in a beautiful Sydney setting – one of the best venues.
The staff were attentive with a pleasant manner.

View of a table

View of a table

This entry was posted on February 28, 2016.

Woodland Kitchen & Bar, Grosvenor Street, Neutral Bay – Wednesday 2 December

Our end of year Christmas lunch was held in a modern, open kitchen restaurant in Neutral Bay. 42 members (including guests) attended the lunch and all were very generous with their donation of gifts for the Manly branch of the Salvation Army church to hand out to disadvantaged children and families on Christmas day.

Children's presents

Children’s presents

Gifts of food for families

Gifts of food for families

The December lunch was organised by Pam Callaghan and Sherri Walsh and Pam will ensure the gifts will be passed onto the church for distribution. Both Pam and Sherri had gone to a lot of trouble organising the lunch, setting the tables in a christmas theme and also organised three lucky door prizes of wine.

We celebrated the festive season with an extensive menu :
Entree consisted of 5 shared plates for the tables :
Grilled Ciabatta, Whipped Feta, Marinated Olives
Seared Scallop Salad, Cucumber Ribbons, Chilli
Wood Grilled Asparagus
Woodfire Grilled Haloumi, Rocket and Lemon
Duck Liver Parfait with Croutons

Grilled Ciabattta, whipped Feta

Grilled Ciabattta, whipped Feta

Scallop Salad

Scallop Salad


Grilled Haloumi

Grilled Haloumi


Duck Liver Parfait

Duck Liver Parfait

All of the shared entrees rated well. The food was fresh, and a good variety of food types. The whipped feta was unusual and went well spread on the grilled Ciabatta.

Mains :
Wood Grilled Tasmanian Salmon with pickled beetroot, orange, feta, mint
Spiced Grilled Chick Breast with chorizo, corn salsa, lime creme fraiche
Wood Grilled Pork Loin with puy lentils, spinach, crackling
Sides of Chips and green salad
The favourite main meal of the day was the Grilled Pork Loin and chosen by most of the ladies. Notable comments were that the size of the portions were too big. Some found the pork overcooked and chewy.
The pickled beetroot and feta, whilst unusual, was a good combination with the Salmon.

Grilled Pork Loin

Grilled Pork Loin

Grilled Tasmanian Salmon

Grilled Tasmanian Salmon

Desserts
Burnt Orange Ice Cream – (churned on the day) biscotti
Mascarpone Baseless Cheescake – raspberries, salted caramel, pistachios

Burnt Orange Ice Cream

Burnt Orange Ice Cream


Baseless Cheesecake

Baseless Cheesecake


Comments on the desserts were – the ice cream was refreshing as had been churned that morning. The cheesecake was a little too sweet.
Another comment was – best desserts ever !

The wines on the day were :
Albert el Fils a French Sparkling – a toasty flavour
Stella Bella 2014 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay
Robert Oatley 2013 Signature Shiraz

The Chardonnay was by far the better white wine as more people do not drink Sauvignon Blanc, even in a blend, these days.

The general comments from the ladies were – an enjoyable lunch, generous portions of food. Friendly attentive service with water glasses replenished repeatedly.
A number will return to the restaurant sometime in the future.
The chef talked on his technique of getting the pork crackling so crunchy. It seemed quite a lengthy process and doubt if too many would remember what to do on christmas day !

Place setting on the table

Place setting on the table

Our President, Cynthia, chatting to guests

Our President, Cynthia, chatting to guests

This entry was posted on December 9, 2015.

Barrel bar and dining, Cremorne, Wednesday 4 November 2015

The November lunch was organised by Shirley La Planche and Anne Wright. The Barrel is known for it’s extensive wines by the glass in the bar area but little did we know how stylish the courtyard area was that easily accommodated 25 of us. We started the lunch with a local sparkling and after a catch up chat with other members, we sat down to a very impressive 5 course menu :

Carpaccio of Alaskan Scallops, blood orange, candied orange zest, fried capers, lemon oil and black salt.
The scallops had a good texture, not over steeped with the marinade and just enough of the orange flavour coming through.

Carpaccio of Alaskan Scallops

Carpaccio of Alaskan Scallops

Rabbit terrine, compressed yellow witlof, apricot, pistachios.
This terrine had a good subtle flavour of rabbit which was contrasted by the tart flavour of the apricot which left a piquant after taste.

Rabbit Terrine

Rabbit Terrine

24 hours slow cooked carrot, smoked carrot puree, pickled heirloom carrot, salted honeycomb, crisp carrot tops.
This was certainly a dish for carrot lovers. The confit carrots (cooked for 24 hours) were just the right texture and the crunch and flavour of the salted honeycomb contrasted well.

Confit carrot

Confit carrot

Slow cooked Beef Cheeks, confit leek, turnip, pureed parsnip, braising sauce.
The beef cheeks melted in the mouth and the rich sauce was matched well with the accompanying root vegetables and leeks.

Slow cooked beef cheeks

Slow cooked beef cheeks

Broken lemon tart, lemon curd, dried meringue, sweet crumble, vanilla ice cream.
This dish was a deconstructed Italian classic dessert.
The lemon curd was delicious and the meringue and sweet crumble provided the sweet contrast.

Broken Lemon Tart

Broken Lemon Tart

The wines on the day were both under Barrel’s own label :
White – 2015 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc from the Margaret River
Red – 2013 Cabernet Merlot from Langhorne Creek, South Australia

The Merlot was the better of the two wines as a majority of the ladies are not keen on Sauvignon Blanc, even when blended with Semillon.

Barrel's wines

Barrel’s wines

All at the lunch agreed the Barrel cooked great food and many will return again.

This entry was posted on November 5, 2015.

Yuzu, Pyrmont, Wednesday 7 October 2015

Two of our members (Jennifer Darin and Trish Redfern) nominated to organise the October lunch and chose Yuzu a favourite Japanese restaurant in Pyrmont.
29 ladies (including 4 guests) all sat outside in the courtyard and were thankful the day was not as hot as the previous day had been.
The menu on the day was a cross section of Yuzu’s lunch and dinner menu :
Agedashi Tofu
Prawns Shumai
Scallops
Tempura Prawns
Kingfish Carpaccio
Salmon, tuna, Kingfish sushi roll
Swordfish or Salmon with bok choy in miso sauce
Duck with Yuzu dressing
Salad with tofu
Rice

On arrival the ladies were greeted with a glass of 2011 Domaine Pichot Sparkling Vouvray Brut from Loire Valley.
This wine had a little age resulting in a buttery taste and was an excellent choice for an aperitif.

Tempura Prawns

Tempura Prawns


Prawns Shumai

Prawns Shumai


All of the dishes rated highly in this restaurant – do not often see a 10 on the rating forms but were evident for some dishes at Yuzu. A few comments on the food – it was felt the orange segments on the carpaccio were unnecessary as the flavour tended to mask the delicate kingfish.
Kingfish Carpaccio

Kingfish Carpaccio

Salmon, Tuna, Kingfish Sushi

Salmon, Tuna, Kingfish Sushi


Duck with Yuzu dressing

Duck with Yuzu dressing

Salmor or Swordfish, bok choy, miso sauce

Salmor or Swordfish, bok choy, miso sauce

. Unfortunately, the duck was over cooked on some plates and the miso sauce on the salmon or swordfish dish was a little too sweet for some tastes.
The white wine was a 2014 James Hardy HRB D659 Riesling which was unusual as it was a blend of Clare Valley and Tasmanian grapes – a light refreshing Riesling.
Two red wines on the day :
2012 Lindemans St George Cabernet Sauvignon – which was the wine of the day – very smooth and maybe too heavy for the Japanese food.
2012 Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz – still showing some tannin and needed a few more years in the bottle.

Most members agreed there was a warm friendly ambience on the day and a good space for a group even though the floor was uneven resulting in spillage of wines !
Overall comments on the food were ‘delicious’ and ‘the restaurant knows how to good seafood well’.

Green salad with tofu

Green salad with tofu

Wines

Wines

This entry was posted on October 14, 2015.