Blue Eye Dragon, Pyrmont, Wednesday 1 February 2017

The first lunch for 2017 was a treat of Taiwanese food from the popular Pyrmont restaurant, Blue Eye Dragon. The Sydney Ladies Wine and Food Society had been to this restaurant six years ago and there was interest to see how the cuisine had changed over that time.
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The aperitif was a 2015 Sandalford Estate Rose and served in the attractive bamboo garden courtyard of the restaurant.
This rose was a darker, deep colour than anticipated and the berry fruit taste was not too sweet which resulted in favourable comments.

To enjoy a cross-section of the restaurant’s menu, the 31 ladies were given four entrees and four mains :

Entrees :
Lavender Tea Smoked Chicken
Steamed Pork Dumplings
Spicy Shin Beef Salad with Taiwanese vinaigrette
Salt and Pepper Prawns

Lavender tea smoked chicken

Lavender tea smoked chicken

Steamed Pork Dumplings

Steamed Pork Dumplings


Spicy shin beef salad Taiwanese vinaigrette

Spicy shin beef salad Taiwanese vinaigrette

Salt & Pepper Prawns

Salt & Pepper Prawns

Whilst the Lavender Tea Smoked Chicken was tender, the lavender infusion was not evident. One of the ladies had the dish a week earlier and said the Lavender smoke was more evident then. Could be because we were a large group which can restrain some elements in food.
The steamed Pork Dumplings were the dish of the day with many 10’s on the rating forms. The coarse texture of the pork and the blend of the herbs and spices made for a great dumpling.
The spicy shin beef was a weaker dish as the meat was over cooked and could have been rarer. The sauce could have done with the addition of a sour element.
The salt and pepper prawns were obviously very fresh prawns and cooked in a light batter. Also rated highly.
Mains :

Beef fillet in black pepper sauce
Prawns and Vegetables in XO sauce
Steamed snapper fillet in fish sauce
Chicken & vegetables in garlic chilli sauce

Signature Beef fillet in black pepper sauce

Signature Beef fillet in black pepper sauce


Steamed snapper fillet in fish sauce

Steamed snapper fillet in fish sauce


Chicken & vegetables in garlic chilli sauce

Chicken & vegetables in garlic chilli sauce

The beef fillet was a taste of spice, pepper and vinegar sharp and rated fairly well.
The aroma of the Prawns and vegetables in XO sauce was outstanding. This was also a good dish as the XO sauce was well put together.
The steamed snapper was a light dish and some commented a little sweet.
The feeling on the Chicken and vegetables in garlic chilli sauce was that there was too much chilli in the dish.

The accompanying wines were :

2016 Madfish Riesling
2015 Little Wine Company Hunter Valley Verdelho – this wine was presented masked and we had a guessing game. The winner took home a bag of the wonderful frozen Pork Dumplings.
2014 Phillip Shaw ‘The Conductor’ Merlot

The wines matched perfectly with the food. The crispness of the white wines went well with the Asian food.
There was plenty of interaction and discussion of the food and wine.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was cool and calm as we had an area to ourselves, but as usual, acoustics were not good when speaking to the attendees.

Overall, the meal was enjoyed by the ladies.

This entry was posted on February 6, 2017.

Bishop Sessa, Surry Hills Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The December lunch did not disappoint as there was a definite seasonal festive air in the room. The last lunch for the year was attended by 38 ladies, 6 of which were guests. 3 of the guests were from associated Wine & Food Societies. The lunch was organised by Mary Capetan with help from our committee co-ordinator, Annie Straiton.
We were fortunate enough to have the upstairs room of Bishop Sessa to ourselves which allowed the popping of christmas bon bons and lucky door prizes to take place with as much gusto as we wished.
On arrival we were greeted with a Nova Vita Firebird Sparkling Pinot Noir NV from Adelaide Hills.
Mixed reaction to this aperitif wine as some found it too sweet.

As is normal at the December lunch, all attendees donated christmas gifts for children and food for families which will be distributed to unfortunate families by a well known charity.
One of our long standing members, Pam Callaghan, kindly arranges the transportation and delivery of these gifts.

Presents for children

Presents for children


Food parcels for families

Food parcels for families

On sitting down at the tables we were presented with a plate of amuse bouche of potato skins with garlic aioli and a parmesan and tomato square.
As the chef explained later on, the restaurant uses all of the produce wherever possible thereby eliminating food waste and these two flavoursome nibbles were an example.

amuse bouche

amuse bouche

The three course meal had a choice of 3 items for each course :
Entree :
Smoked and macerated heirloom tomatoes, miso and mustard ice cream, watermelon, sour onions, olive
Scallop Ceviche -carrot, ginger beer sorbet, lime, fennel, avocado cream
Spice and Macadamia crusted Berkshire Pork, apple, kale, pork broth.

Scallop Ceviche

Scallop Ceviche

Crusted Berkshire Pork

Crusted Berkshire Pork

The heirloom tomato dish and the Scallop Ceviche both received rave reviews. The flavours in the tomato dish resulted in a comment “the best entree I have ever had”.
The scallop ceviche was full of differing flavours and textures and the ginger beer sorbet cut through the sweetness of the fresh scallops.

The Berkshire pork dish received good reviews as the meat was tender and balanced with the spice and macadamia crust.

The white wine with the entrees was a 2014 Walsh and Sons Little Poppet semillon/chardonnay blend from WA.
This wine was presented masked and no one could guess the wine. This wine did not rate well.
Mains on the day :
Pan fried Cone Bay Barramundi, fennel barigoule, preserved lemon, clam and garlic
Herb crusted Cowra Lamb, pea puree, miso, asparagus and pepper sauce
Braised David Blackmore’s Fullblood Wagyu Girello, vegetable ash, red pepper oil, bone marrow sauce

Cone Bay Barramundi

Cone Bay Barramundi

Cowra lamb

Cowra lamb

Wagyu Girello

Wagyu Girello

The Cowra lamb, although presented without a herb crust on the day, was the most favoured main dish. The pea puree was subtle and made with stock, not cream.
The Barramundi dish was well cooked and presented perfectly. Unfortunately, the Wagyu Girello was over braised which resulted in dry meat and more sauce was needed on the plate.

The wine was a Castillo Rodafuerte Tempranillo 2014 La Roda, Spain and matched well with the food.

The desserts were :
Milk Chocolate tart, salted peanut caramel, popcorn, peanut butter ice cream
Apple terrine, walnut, coffee mousse, apple cider ice cream
Baked vanilla cheesecake, apricot jelly, honeycomb, green tea and apricot ice cream
Owner and chef, Paul Cooper, earned a reputation as a great dessert master at a Michelin star restaurant in London and the three desserts did not disappoint, each one was perfect.

Firstly, we were treated to a dessert amuse bouche of a ginger biscuit with marshmallow on top

Ginger biscuit amuse bouche

Ginger biscuit amuse bouche

Chocoolate tart

Chocoolate tart

Apple terrine

Apple terrine


Vanilla cheesecake

Vanilla cheesecake

The chocolate tart was a flavour bomb of sweetness and salt in the mouth.
Comments on the apple terrine were that it could have been warmed up slightly.
The vanilla cheesecake was light and tasty.

All agreed the restaurant served well balanced flavours of food on each plate.
Top marks also to the artful presentation of the food on the plate.

The service was a bit slow and disorganised but that could be because we were upstairs.

Many advised they would return.

This entry was posted on December 15, 2016.

Ruby’s Mount Kembla, Wednesday 2 November 2016

The annual bus trip away to a regional restaurant for 2016 was held at Ruby’s in Kembla Heights, south of Sydney. The November lunch was organised by Margaret Teh and Penny Still.
Ruby’s is situated in a restored wooden building on the main street of a historic mining village and the restaurant is owned and run by Scott Woods who has an impressive cv of working in well known restaurants in Sydney, London and Whistler, Canada.

Ruby's restaurant

Ruby’s restaurant

After departing by coach from Central Station we first headed to Hazelhurst Cafe and Art Gallery to view an exhibition of artworks entitled Nganampa Kililpil – Our Stars – curated from art centres in the Central and Western deserts. The art and ceramaics were very impressive and enjoyed after a tea or coffee at the cafe.

The lunch was to be a 5 course degustation with matching wines.

On arrival at Ruby’s leafy courtyard we were served a glass of Chevalier Blanc de Blancs.
This was a refreshing pick-me-up after a lengthy drive to Kembla Heights.

We were seated in the main room with the atmosphere of olde worlde charm with plenty of memorabilia on the walls.

The meal started with :
Butternut Pumpkin Veloute
House made bread

Butternut Pumpkin Veloute

Butternut Pumpkin Veloute

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Followed by :

Confit Rabbit Terrine, Proscuitto, Pistachio, Piccalilli

Served with 2016 Wooing Tree Rose from Central Otago NZ

The Veloute was considered to be too salty and the pumpkin flavour not strong enough. The Rabbit Terrine had a great meld of flavours and some considered the Piccalilli, whilst unusual, was too strong a match with the other subtle flavours of a well constructed dish.

The Rose paired well with the Terrine.

Confit Ocean Trout, Kohlrabi, Fennel, Celeriac Puree
Served with 2015 Kilikanoon Morts Block Riesling from the Clare Valley, SA

Confit Ocean Trout

Confit Ocean Trout

This was a well constructed visually pleasing dish that had been cooked to perfection with great textures and the contrasting flavours married well.
The Clare Valley Riesling was a perfect match.

Next was the Smoked Duck Breast, Braised Leg, White Turnip, Golden Beetroot, Corn Puree
Served with 2015 Artemis Pinot Noir – Southern Highlands, NSW

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This dish was a taste bomb with the smoky emphasis of the rare pink duck breast and the clever cylindrical construction of the braised leg. The glaze atop the braised leg was perfect.
The pinot noir was a very disappointing wine pairing as it had no depth of flavour and consequently not enjoyed.

Dessert :

Chocolate Fondant, White Chocolate Mousse, Strawberry Sorbet, Walnut Soil
Served with 2013 Mitchelton Blackwood Park Botrytis Riesling, Victoria

Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate Fondant


Chocolate and Strawberries in a dessert dish are always a big winner and this dessert did not disappoint.
This dessert was enjoyed immensely by all at the lunch. The chocolate fondant had been cooked perfectly.
The Botrytis was a good match.

The food lived up to the award from Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat Winner awarded for the 4th year in a row to Scott Woods.
There were numerous 9’s and 10’s on the rating forms – the sign of a well designed menu providing great food.
The comments on the wine were that the the pours of wine were too small and apart from the Pinot Noir, were enjoyable.
The service was slow at times which was evident from the inexperienced floor staff.

A quiet return trip to Sydney.

This entry was posted on November 20, 2016.

Nithik’s Kitchen, Darling Street Rozelle, Wednesday 5 October 2016

The decision was made for a touch of spice for the October lunch which was organised by Siew Clough and Tomoko Bennett with Annie Straiton taking over closer to the date of the lunch.
It is 2 and a half years from when the ladies attended a lunch at Nithik’s Kitchen and returned to enjoy another feast of southern Indian food.

On arrival the greeting drink was a Vasantha Neer – Coconut water infused with lime, honey and mint.
This drink received mixed reviews and a comment was ‘a bit sweet’ but on the whole an interesting drink.

Entrees :

Holi Chat – mung beans potato and corn chatpati mix, crispy wheat shells, lentil dumplings
Kotaiyur kozhi varuval from Chetinad – crispy chicken masala thigh fillets with lemon aval

Holi Chat

Holi Chat

Crispy Chicken Masala

Crispy Chicken Masala

Both these entree dishes received high ratings – a few 10’s which is encouraging for restaurants.

Mains :
Meen manga charu – Barramundi fillets in green mango and tamarind seeds
Kathirikai chops – baby eggplant in masala of coconut, peppercorn, cumin, fennel & curry leaves
Lamb Chukka – blend of peppercorn, aniseed, red chilli and fresh curry leaves

Barramundi fillets

Barramundi fillets

Baby Eggplant

Baby Eggplant

Lamb Chukka

Lamb Chukka

Dahl of the day – lentils cooked with chef’s choice on the day

The barramundi fillets and eggplant dish were more favourable with their subtle flavours. The dahl did not rate as highly as the other 3 dishes but Nithik’s dahl is lighter in texture and flavour than what people are used to.

The accompaniments for the main courses were Kashmiri pulav – mild rice with nuts and raisins as well as Veechu parota – a flaky fluffy bread made with plain flour.

The dessert on the day was the famous Nithik’s Orange Indian ice cream

Orange Ice cream

Orange Ice cream


This dessert of a halved orange filled with a citrusy delicately spiced kulfi was a winner again.

Wines on the day :

Yalumba “Y” Pinot Grigio
D’Arenberg Stump Jump 2012 blend

Both wines were noted as an excellent match with the food.

All agreed it was a delicious lunch with the wonderful use of fresh herbs and good textures in the food plus the colours of the ingredients all balanced out.

The restaurant has recently moved down the street to larger premises and the subtle authentic flavours of the food remain. The new restaurant has a touch of a colonial atmosphere and it was great to have the main room to ourselves.
This restaurant keeps on improving.

This entry was posted on November 13, 2016.

Baccomato Osteria, Riley Street, Surry Hills, Wednesday 7 September 2016

The September lunch, with an Italian theme, was organised by Kathy Turbott and Patricia Davis.
The ladies were greeted with an Aperol Spritz to start the lunch.
The entrees were :

Selection of Antipasti – salumi and cheese
Cod croquettes

The accompanying wine was a 2014 Inama Suave Classico

The antipasti dish was a great selection with a lot of flavours on the plate.
The cod croquettes were considered salty as too much salt had been added in the cooking process.
The Suave was a good wine match with the food.

Pasta dish :
Casoncelli – a stuffed pasta typically from Lombardy.

The accompanying wine was 2014 De Forville Arneis

This dish, whilst having a good texture, also had the comment of too much salt in the stuffing.

Main :
Lamb Cutlets with cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper)
Potatoes and greens

Accompanying wine was a 2013 Maretti Barbera e Nebbiolo

The lamb cutlets were tender and beautifully cooked to perfection but this dish could have done without the cheese sauce and the comment was, again, that there was too much salt in the sauce.
The Barbera was a good match.

Dessert :
Tiramisu – this traditional dessert rated highly and was considered ‘best ever’ by a few of the ladies.

The overall feeling was that the restaurant served generous servings of authentic Italian food and it was a shame some dishes contained too much salt.
The restaurant was very clean and modern and service attentive and professional.

Unfortunately, no photos as the scribe was on leave.

This entry was posted on November 7, 2016.

Ivan & Lissie’s, McMahons Point, Wednesday 3 August 2016

The August lunch was organised by Suzi Shaw and Janelle Fisher in a local family run restaurant in McMahons Point that has been operating for 30 years on the Lower North Shore.
The lunch was attended by 27 members and 3 guests and we were in for a treat of a 6 course degustation menu of an Asian / Australian fusion of flavours. Ivan and Lissie make their own chilli jams, marinades and sauces using family recipes that have been handed down.

Colourful restaurant

Colourful restaurant

On arrival the ladies were greeted with a glass of Lillet – Blanc French aperitif. This aperitif is made in Bordeaux from mainly Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes with citrus liquers from orange peel and bitter green apple. Served in a glass with ice, and a slice of blood orange.

Aperitif

Aperitif


This aperitif was well regarded as was considered different and a nice change.

The 6 course menu consisted of :
Japanese style braised Shiitake mushrooms served with ‘snow ear’ fungi.
Grilled King Prawn with homemade chilli jam
Spicy Curried Lentils with sour cream and roasted almonds, served in a paper thin steamed rice pastry

Lentils in a paper thin rice pastry

Lentils in a paper thin rice pastry

Fish of the day in a broth
Choice of :
Slow cooked Shin of Beef cooked in spices OR
Grilled Nigerian Chicken cooked in spices and served in a chilli, onion and tomato sauce

Fish in Asian flavoured broth

Fish in Asian flavoured broth

Choice of :
Sticky Date Pudding served with butterscotch sauce and ice cream
Flourless Orange Almond cake and ice cream

Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding


Flourless Orange Almond Cake

Flourless Orange Almond Cake

This restaurant would have the highest scores on the rating forms for many years – certainly a lot of 10’s. The only negative comment being that the Fish of the day had been slightly over-cooked and was a little dry, but then this was compensated by the broth.

The food was considered a lovely journey of fresh flavours gained from fresh produce that had been well balanced with a mix of spices and fresh herbs.
The presentation of the food was superb and each course was served on fresh white plates, although we used the same cutlery!
One comment on the desserts “the best sticky date pudding ever”.
The wines were :
2014 Dapff Riesling from Alsace which complemented the asian style of food very well
2014 Celliers Les Dauphins, Cotes du Rhone – a lighter style wine that suited the two meat dishes.

Many ladies commented that they will return. The best compliment a restaurant can get.

Lissie talking to some of the tables

Lissie talking to some of the tables

This entry was posted on August 7, 2016.

Royal Exchange Club, Gresham Street, Sydney, Wednesday 6 July 2016

The July lunch was preceded by the 51st AGM of the Society and was held in the Royal Exchange Club (REX). This lunch was organised by Siew Clough and 24 members and 1 guest attended.
As usual at the AGM a new committee was formed and members were asked to elect to organise the 11 monthly lunches for the coming year. One of our members talked on her recent trip to Europe with the International Wine & Food Society and, in particular, a wonderful meal in a Michelin star restaurant in Budapest.

The lunch commenced with a glass of NV Charles Pelletier Grande Reserve Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay from the Loire Valley, France and two canapes :
Caramelised pumpkin and goat’s cheese tart with roasted red capsicum pesto
Thai salad of prawns, pineapple and coriander served in a spoon

The main dishes were :
Wild Barramundi with cauliflower puree, grilled asparagus and lemon thyme, heirloom tomatoes
Lamb backstrap with sweet potato and feta mash, baby English spinach, french beans, honey roasted carrots
Chicken supreme breast with creamy mash, baby spinach, green beans and harissa sauce
All accompanied with bowls of green salad and chips

Wild Barramundi

Wild Barramundi

Lamb Backstrap with vegetables

Lamb Backstrap with vegetables


The Barramundi was moist with a crisp skin on the outside and enjoyed.
The lamb backstrap had been cooked rare and for those that do not like rare meat, was not to their taste.
The chicken was very tender and tasty and it was considered could have been organically grown.

The mains were served with the following wines :
2014 Moppity Vineyard 12 Signs Pinot Grigio
2014 Gibson “Dirtman” Barossa Valley Shiraz

The Gibson ‘Dirtman’ was a good wine to pair with the lamb.

The meal finished with a cheese plate consisting of a variety of three cheeses – a French Brie, English Cheddar and a Roquefort Blue.
The cheese was paired with a mystery wine where all present participated in a wine options game to guess the red wine. The winner took home a bottle of Pirramimma Petit Verdot from Mclaren Vale.
The chef, Peter, came out to speak to the ladies and talked specifically on where he sourced his produce from, especially the chicken.

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This entry was posted on July 11, 2016.