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.

President’s Dinner, Wednesday 2 September 2015 – La Grillade, Crows Nest.

On a cool evening 18 members and 10 guests (mostly husbands/partners) attended the annual President’s Dinner.
La Grillade, is a long established restaurant serving French styled food. We were fortunate to have a room to ourselves, which although open to the elements, had plenty of gas heating.
We were able to choose a large selection from their menu – 5 entrees, 4 mains and 5 desserts.
Entrees being :
Salt and Pepper Calamari
Garlic Prawns
Potted Rabbit
Snails in the Shell
French Goats Cheese
Mains :
Atlantic Salmon Fillet
Coq au vin
Pork Belly
Sirloin steak with a veal and red wine sauce
Desserts :
Crème Caramel
Coffee Profiteroles with Kahlua Anglaise
Rich Belgium Chocolate Mousse
Spiced Pannacotta with Apple Crumble
Brie with croutons
The garlic prawns were a popular choice for an entrée and were cooked to perfection.

Garlic Prawns

Garlic Prawns


The Potted Rabbit was served too cold to distinguish the flavour of the rabbit.
The Snails were considered reasonable.
Snails in the Shell

Snails in the Shell


The Atlantic Salmon and the Sirloin Steak were rated as being overcooked even though the wait staff mentioned that would not be the case.
The Pork Belly was considered to be excellent, well rendered and cooked perfectly, even though a little salty.
Pork Belly

Pork Belly


Coq au vin

Coq au vin


The Crème Caramel was rated highly but the choux pastry of the Profiteroles was disappointing in that the pastry was a little tough.
The brie was not ripe and, therefore, disappointing.

Crème Caramel

Crème Caramel

Coffee Profiteroles with Kahlua anglaise

Coffee Profiteroles with Kahlua anglaise

The wines on the evening were :
On arrival 2013 Freixenet Vintage – a crisp, dry sparkling
White : 2012 Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay NZ – a well regarded complex Chardonnay with depth and character.
Red : 2012 JL Chave ‘Mon Coeur’ Cotes du Rhone – drinking well but not enjoyed as much as the Chardonnay.

The general comments on La Grillade ranged from ‘not a restaurant to return to’ to ‘an average meal on the whole’ and a ‘lovely evening with friends’.

This entry was posted on September 26, 2015.

Fish at the Rocks, Wednesday 5 August 2015

This was the first lunch under the concept adopted at the AGM of 2 members electing themselves to organise the monthly lunches rather than have a food mistress and wine mistress appointed for the whole year. The president and secretary arranged the August lunch at The Rocks on what was one of the coldest days of the winter. We were fortunate to have a private room upstairs which allowed for privacy, although the room was a little draughty.

Members perusing the menu

Members perusing the menu


On arrival we were handed a Cattier NV Champagne, which was gratefully received.
The menu :
Entrée
Mixed seafood platter to share
Mixed Seafood platter

Mixed Seafood platter

Mains :
Spaghettini, mussels, scallops, king prawns, salmon, garlic basil
Whiting fillets in beer batter, potato chips, lemon and tartare sauce
Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon fillet, grilled tiger prawns, saffron shellfish veloute, tomato, dill, spring onions, parisienne potato
Blue Eye Cod fillet, grilled, potato gnocchi, red wine and mushroom ragout
Eye Fillet Steak with red win jus, potato chips
Accompanied by green salad and chips

Spaghettini with seafood

Spaghettini with seafood

Blue Eye Cod Fillet

Blue Eye Cod Fillet


Tasmanian Salmon

Tasmanian Salmon


Whiting Fillets

Whiting Fillets

The mixed seadfood platter was a good cross section of shellfish, oysters and calamari and the presentation was well done. Due to the fact the kitchen was downstairs the food was not as hot as it should have been and the food suffered from the logistics of carrying the food upstairs on such a cold day.
The most popular choice for the main dish was the Blue Eye Cod and enjoyed by most with some comments that the ‘sauce was too strong’ and the seafood a ‘little overcooked’.
The overcooked comment applied to the salmon as well – we are now used to salmon being a slightly darker colour in the middle.
The overall feeling was the restaurant served generous portions, excellent presentation but no innovation in the cooking style.
The white wine was : 2008 Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling – Riesling divides the society as some enjoy a Riesling with age, whereas others perceive the age as ‘kerosene’ on the nose.
The red wine was : 2014 Nanny Goat Pinot Noir – a good example of a Pinot Noir from the Otago region in NZ. This wine was well matched with the seafood – especially the blue eye cod.

Generally, a good choice of restaurant. The private room added to the convivial ambience on the day.
Perhaps not enough service staff and wine service in the beginning was far too slow.

It was noted there were no comments from the organisers of the lunch nor from the floor – we are a Wine & Food Society !

Green Salad

Green Salad

This entry was posted on August 12, 2015.

The Persian Room, Pyrmont, Wednesday 1 July

The AGM of the society was held prior to the July lunch.
A new committee was formed at the AGM and then 28 members enjoyed the Persian food cooked by Maryam and her team at the friendly and delightful Persian Room restaurant.

On arrival we sipped on a pomegranate, sour cherry and sparkling chardonnay aperitif.
Entrees :
Kashkebademjan – 4 hour cooked Eggplant with garlic and walnuts, served with toasted pita style bread
Kufteh – 8 hour slow cooked meatball made of minced lamb shoulder, saffron rice, split peas with a Persian plum in the middle

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Mains :
Fish Fillet marinated in aromatic Persian spices and lemons with herb saffron rice
Mixed Kebab Platter consisting of
1 Kubideh – ground lamb shoulder blended with saffron and onion
1 Bargue – lamb back strap marinated in one juice and saffron
1 Jujeh – Chicken thighs marinated in onion juice and saffron

Geyneh – 5 hour slow cooked lamb with saffron, fresh tomatoes, split peas and potatoes

Mixed Kebab Platter

Mixed Kebab Platter


Geyneh and Saffron rice

Geyneh and Saffron rice

Fresh garden salad

Fresh garden salad

Mains were accompanied with a fresh garden salad

For Dessert :
Persian Pastry – saffron, marshmallow pistachio and honey
Pash Mac – Persian fairy floss

Persian Pastry

Persian Pastry

The wines on the day were from the Mudgee wine district :
White wine – Farmer’s Daughter Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
Red wine – Farmer’s Daughter Cabernet Sauvignon

Both wines were well matched with the flavoursome food.
The ladies appreciated the introduction of each course of the food by Maryam and the explanation on the ingredients and the fact they were all gluten free.
The eggplant was exceptional and enjoyed by all with one comment “the best I have ever eaten”.
The fish fillet was rated excellent but the Jujeh chicken kebab was a little dry and did not rate as highly as the other kebabs.
The general feeling was the restaurant was unpretentious, all about the generous servings of the delicious food presented by enthusiastic hosts.
The ambience was delightful, all loved the Persian glassware and the atmosphere felt like eating in someone’s home.

Persian Glassware

Persian Glassware

This entry was posted on July 12, 2015.

The Spice Room, Wednesday 3 June, 2015

The June lunch was a shared Indian feast at the popular ‘Spice Room’ restaurant at Circular Quay. 18 members and 7 guests enjoyed the lunch where we were able to sit together on one large table which incorporated the antique table originally from a grand mansion in the town of Chittor Aquila.
On arrival the ladies were greeted with a mocktail containing Coconut water, lime juice and coriander sprigs which had been muddled together and served with a slice of fresh lime.

The menu consisted of :
Entrees :
Punjabi Paneer Pakora – Green Chutney sandwiched between slices of Indian Paneer (curd cheese)dipped in chick pea batter and deep fried. Served with date and tamarind chutney.
Cauliflower Pakora Pops – Cauliflower florets served as fritters with sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Spiced Masala Okra – Okra stir fried with onion, ginger, garlic and masala spices.

Punjabi Paneer Pakora

Punjabi Paneer Pakora


Masala Okra

Masala Okra

Mains :

House Black Dhaal – This is the restaurant’s signature dish of slow cooked lentils (24 hrs) resulting in a rich creamy dish with deep flavours.

Black Dhaal

Black Dhaal

Lamb Seekh Kebab Peshawari – Minced lamb flavoured with exotic spices, cooked in the tandoor oven.
Kerala Prawns – Prawns marinated with mustard seeds and curry leaf simmered in a coconut broth with spices, ginger and green chilli.
Butter Chicken – Tender pieces of boneless chicken marinated and cooked in the tandoori oven and smothered in a creamy, tomato flavoured sauce.

Naan Bread and Rice to accompany the main course dishes.

For dessert there was an individual Paan Kulfi on a stick – a sweet creamy treat with pistachio nuts.

Except for the Punjabi Paneer Pakora, all the dishes were consistently rated 8 -10 which is a high rating for a restaurant.
The comments were excellent flavours, enjoyed the experience and a large number of comments of “will return again”.
The ambience was enhanced by being able to sit at one long table and certainly enjoyed by the ladies.

The wines for the day were :

White – 2013 Stumpy Gully Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula Victoria
Red – 2010 Scarpantoni ‘School Block’ blend, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Both wines matched the food well.

Indian Spices

Indian Spices

This entry was posted on June 16, 2015.