Le Bouchon, Crows Nest, Wednesday 2 August, 2017

We had a good attendance for the French food served at Le Bouchon for the August lunch. 24 members and 5 guests attended and we were treated to a 3 course meal of typical French cooking with matching French wines.

On arrival we consumed a Monmousseau Brut Etoile from Loire Valley. This sparkling was light, plenty of clean fruit and considered a refreshing start to the lunch.
Les Entrees – a choice of four :
Twice Baked Blue Cheese & Spinach Souffle with confit cherry tomatoes
Escargots with Persillade and warm baquette
French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons
House Terrine, Pork & Black Pudding Rillettes with onion jam and toasted baquette

House Terrine

French Onion Soup

The favourite entree chosen by over a third of the ladies was the Twice Baked Souffle. This entree scored highly with a number of 10’s and was considered light and with a tasty blue cheese flavour.

Twice Baked Souffle

The French Onion soup was considered excellent. The escargots disappointing as there was grit in the dish.

Les Mains were :
Pan Roasted Barramundi Fillet, truffled cauliflower veloute and diamond clams
Braised Beef Cheeks a la Bourguignonne with parmentier potatoes
Pan Roasted Duck Breast and confit duck leg with brussels sprout and lentils jus

The ladies certainly like duck as over 30 percent chose the duck main dish. Could be because duck is not cooked at home too often. The breast was cooked just enough to retain moisture in the meat but the confit was not considered to be cooked to traditional methods.

Duck Breast & Confit Duck Leg

The Beef Cheeks were succulent after hours of slow cooking and the Barramundi was inconsistent on plates as perfectly cooked on some plates but mush on one other.

Braised Beef Cheeks

Barramundi fillet Pan Roasted

Les desserts :
Ile Flottante – light meringue with creme anglaise and sticky sweet caramel
Rhubarb Creme Brulee
Opera Cake with white chocolate crumble, ganache and chocolate sorbet

Ile Flottante

The light meringue dessert was by far the favourite choice and did not disappoint. The meringue was light, no hint of sugar grains and the sticky caramel sauce was refined.
A visually pleasing dessert as well with the toffee grid on top.

Opera Cake with white chocolate crumble

This was a well constructed dessert and was favoured by the chocoholics.

The white wine was a Picpoul Blanc 2015 Autanel, Languedoc
The red wine was Chateau St. Maurice 2015, Rhone Valley

Both wines were considered well matched with the food and the red wine rated more favourably than the white.

Wines at the lunch

The chef, who is cordon bleu trained, talked on how he had cooked the beef cheeks and the way to double cook a souffle.

The wait staff were courteous and experienced, although the service from the kitchen was a little slow.

A thoroughly enjoyable lunch, delicious food, great wines.

This entry was posted on August 16, 2017.

Union, University & Schools Club (known as Union Club) Sydney, Wednesday 5 July, 2017

The 51st AGM for the Society preceded the July lunch. We were very fortunate to have a separate room for the AGM and our lunch in the elegant, refined surroundings of the club.

The present committee were re-elected to stand for another year.

The lunch opened with a glass (or two) of NV House of Arras Sparkling, Bay of Fires, Tasmania served with a zucchini, herb and haloumi fritter.

The Arras sparkling was fresh, with a toasty flavour and lived up to it’s reputation of a superb Tasmanian sparkling. The fritter was tasty but considered on the small size.

The main course was a Chicken breast filled with semi dried tomato and basil served with soft polenta.

The chicken was not over cooked, still retaining moisture, and considered succulent. The filling was tasty and not overwhelming in flavour to overtake the chicken.

The highlight of the meal was the Pear Frangipani Tart with Hazelnut Cream. The pastry for the tart was light and with a texture that was not too dry. The filling was not too sweet thereby making for an excellent dessert.

Assorted cheese plates and tea/coffee and petit fours followed the main meal.

The two wines served were :

UUSC labelled Pinot Gris from King Valley, Victoria
UUSC labelled Shiraz from the Hunter Valley, NSW

The Shiraz was the favourite wine as not all members enjoy white wine, especially in the winter.

The staff were well trained and offered unobtrusive service.

The ladies enjoyed the atmosphere of the club and walking around viewing the extension art collection of mainly Australian art.

This entry was posted on July 25, 2017.

Nilgiri’s Feast of India, Cremorne, Wednesday 7 June 2017

The June lunch was held at Nilgiri’s which has been a long standing lower North Shore Indian restaurant and has recently opened in Cremorne.
The lunch started off with a glass of NV Chandon Brut Sparkling Rose before we sat down to a medley of wonderful spicy flavours of shared plates from an extensive menu.
To start small plates of Pappadums with lemon pickles, raita of the day, sweet mango & nigella marmalade. These were a good tantalising taste to start the meal.

Ajwaini Jhinga – Paprika & carom-scented Prawns, chickpea flour batter, curry leaf mayonnaise.
Pulled Chicken with Rotli – hand pulled oven-cooked Chicken Breast, spanish onions, mint & coriander chatni & roti
Saunf Ka Bund Gosht – Diced leg of lamb fennel coated, tandoor-cooked, fennel raita
Moong Dal Samosa – pepper flavoured pastry, spiced mung lentils, mashed potatoes, tamarind chutney

Ajwaini Jhinga – Prawns

These prawns were rated from delicious to overcooked but one comment was that the excellent nigella marmalade dip went better with the prawns than the curry leaf mayonnaise.

Pulled Chicken with Rotli

Close up photo of the flavours stacked on the rotli

The presentation of the Pulled Chicken dish was excellent and the meld of flavours of spices and coriander and mint were all detected.

Moong Dal Samosa

The slices were a generous taste of the Samosa and flavours were well balanced.
The lamb entree – Saunf Ka Bund Gosht was considered a little dry but good flavour.

Quilon Fish – Fillet of Ling fillet, mustard, star anise, fresh curry leaf and coconut sauce
Murgh Tikka Makhni – Chicken thigh tandoor cooked, honey & fenugreek flavoured tomato sauce
Boti Zaaffraani Korma – Diced leg of lamb, saffron, ground cashew nuts & yoghurt sauce
Achari Gobhi – Cauliflower florettes, pickling spices, nigella & cumin, mustard oil & fresh ginger
Chat potatoes, cumin & green chillies
All served with steamed basmati rice & selection of breads

Murgh Tikka Makhni
Chicken Tandoor

Quilon Fishwith cauliflower and potato dishes

All of the main dishes rated highly with a good number of 10’s on the rating forms.

Coconut Kulfi

The dessert at the lunch was a Coconut Kulfi – a refreshing end to the meal.

The wines on the day were :

Paulett Reisling 2015 Clare Valley SA
Xanadu Fusion Chardonnay 2015 Margaret River
Leasingham Bin 61 2015 Shiraz Clare Valley SA – served as a mystery wine

The Society had the restaurant to themselves which is always a bonus and the staff coped well but were unsure of opening and pouring wines at the correct time.
A well balanced flavoursome lunch and many will return.

This entry was posted on June 12, 2017.

Penny Lane, Rozelle, Wednesday 3 May 2017

The May lunch was held in a cafe/restaurant in the heart of Rozelle. On arrival the venue looked like a small bar but as we entered the back we found a comfortable courtyard room with plenty of greenery on the ceiling for atmosphere. 18 members and 3 guests attended the lunch.
The menu consisted of shared entrees, a choice of 3 main courses and shared desserts.

We were greeted with a glass of Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvee which was considered a fresh, delicious start to the lunch.
The canape to accompany the Cuvee was a Beef Carpaccio crouton with truffle oil, parmesan. This was a tasty, well balanced accompaniment.

The entrees were :

Terrine of Pork, game, pistachio with cress, apple, walnuts, fig and eschallot jam
House cured Ocean trout with poached tomato, avocado, trout roe
Hand cut zucchini wedges with spicy aioli

Terrine of pork, game, pistachio

Cured Ocean Trout

The terrine was rich, quite moist (the components not compacted at all). A good meld of pork, game and pistachio.
The house cured ocean trout was a delicate dish and was not overpowered by the avocado.
It was considered a good idea to cook zucchini in this way as they can be a bland vegetable. The zucchini were crisp and not oily.

Zucchini Wedges

The white wine served with the entrees was a 2016 Pieropan Soave Classico. This wine was highly rated and was considered to support all 3 entrees beautifully.

The main courses on the day were :
Pan roasted duck breast, red cabbage and citrus salad, cherry glaze, duck fat potatoes
Lamb backstrap, white bean, chorizo, fennel, chickpea, tomato sugo
Pan fried Snapper fillet, potato puree, steamed greens, citrus butter

Pan roasted duck breast

Due to the fact that most of the ladies chose the duck, the restaurant could not cope with the quantity. As a consequence, the duck was overcooked, there were too many potatoes on the plate as well as some serves were cold by the time they arrived.
The few ladies who tried the pan fried snapper fillet felt that the fish was cooked to perfection but the citrus flavour was understated – could have been sharper.
Here again, too much potato on the plate. It was felt the main serves were too large for a lunch.

The red wine was a 2014 Toolangi Estate Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley. This was a good pinot noir with excellent structure and texture with hints of spice, plum and cherry and was well received.

The shared plate of desserts were a flourless double chocolate and almond cake with caramel sauce and cinnamon dusted churros with chocolate sauce, pistachio gelato

Dessert plate

Both of the desserts were cooked well and enjoyed by all.

The mystery wine was a 2014 Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Cabernet Franc from the Orange region. This wine was not to everyone’s taste but was drinking well.

The service in the restaurant was exceptional.

This entry was posted on May 14, 2017.

Courtney’s Brasserie, Parramatta, Wednesday 5 April 2017

The April lunch was held out of central Sydney at a popular Parramatta restaurant. Most of the members travelled by River Cat ferry and had an enjoyable trip along the river on a sunny Sydney day.
We were in for a treat with a 7 course degustation menu and exceptional wines that were generously donated by the two members who organised the lunch.
On arrival we were greeted with a 2015 Chateau de L’aumerade, cuvee Marie-Christine cru classe Rose.
This light pink coloured Rose had an aroma of cherries, a distinct minerality and went well with the following two canapes :

Sydney Rock Oysters

Quail Fillet & Chicken Liver Pate

Both of the canapes were enjoyed by all and were a flavoursome start to a great meal.
The entrees were :
North Coast Octopus terrine, avocado, pickled ginger, cucumber, fennel and mustard
Willowbrae Goats Curd souffle with caramelised pumpkin, candied walnuts and lavender salt

Octopus Terrine

Goats Curd Souffle

The octopus was tender but all the flavours of the accompaniments were not evident. The ginger could not be detected.
The souffle was considered the weak dish of the day, not a strong flavour of goats curd and rather salty.
The mystery wine was a 2013 Domaine Flaiveley Mercurey clos Rochelle. A great example of a French chardonnay and matched perfectly with the food.
The main courses were :
Free Range Duck Assiette, sous vide breast, confit leg and speck and eshallot pitithier with pea puree, baby turnips and confit celery
Seared Venison Denver leg, parsnip, beetroot pave, balsamic roasted pine mushroom and berry jus

Duck Assiette

Seared Venison

As the duck breast had been sous vide, there was no crisp skin. It was remarked that there was too much on the plate and the duck was a little tough to eat.
The venison dish was the best of the mains and the beetroot pave was a great accompaniment.
The duck was served with the 2015 Yealands Estate Pinot Noir, Awatere Marlborough. It was felt that whilst the wine was young, it would develop into being very drinkable.
We were treated to a 2001 Penfold St. Henri Shiraz from the Barossa Valley to accompany the Venison dish. This was a superb match.
We were each served a mixed dessert plate of Zokoko 78% chocolate pate, Mango Yoghurt Sorbet, Churros, Frangipane, caramelised fig

Mixed Dessert Plate

The Zokoko chocolate was very good.

All agreed the meal was interesting with a large variety of produce and all plates were beautifully presented.
The service in the room was excellent.
The chef talked at length about the food and his approach to sustainable use of fresh produce.

This entry was posted on May 1, 2017.

Sails Restaurant, McMahons Point, Wednesday 1 March 2017

The March event for the Sydney Ladies Wine & Food Society was a dinner (President’s Dinner) where husbands, partners and guests were invited. 39 people attended the dinner.
Sails is an iconic restaurant sitting on the northern foreshore of Sydney harbour and we commenced the dinner early so all could watch the sunset over the harbour and opposite foreshore. Not to be, as it was a cloudy evening but we all enjoyed a glass of 2014 Pichot Vouvray Brut with freshly shucked oysters and a watermelon and fetta tartlet.
View of Luna Park from Sails

The entrees for the evening were :
Snow Crab, Avocado puree, granny smith
Scallops, prosciutto, cos lettuce
Kurobata pork belly, pickled green tomatoes, sea grass, verjus
The matching wines being : 2014 Denis Pommier Chablis and 2015 Underground ‘Off Spring’ Pinot Gris

Snow crab avocado

Scallops, Proscuitto

Kurobata Pork Belly

The snow crab dish had a good portion of crab and avocado. The foam did not overwhelm the other ingredients.
The scallops were moist, caramelised – a classy entree.
Whilst the pork belly did not have a crunchy crust, the meat was very tender and melt in the mouth.
The Chablis being the most popular of the two white wines, was considered fresh with good acid and went well with the crab and scallops.

The main courses being :
Pink Snapper, Carrot & ginger puree, rainbow chard, grapefruit
Grimaud Duck Breast, roast beetroot, mulberries jus
Cape Grim Beef Tenderloin, shitake mushrooms, jus
Matching wines : 2015 Helen’s Hill Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, 2014 Paxton Jones McLaren Vale Shiraz

Pink Snapper

Duck Breast

Beef Tenderloin

The snapper was moist, tender and well matched with the carrot and ginger puree.
The duck was the dish of the day with tender meat, an accompanying sweet sauce, which balanced with the sharpness of the taste of the beetroot. Unfortunately, the restaurant had not set aside enough portions of the duck for all of our people to order it.
The beef tenderloin was only served medium – well done. Unfortunately, this meat, which would have been cooked sous vide, did not suit those who wanted a rare steak.
The Paxton Jones Block McLaren Vale Shiraz was the favoured red wine and matched well with the duck and beef.
Desserts on the evening were :
Pear Parfait, liquorice dacquoise, pear elderflower coulis
Valrhona chocolate gateaux, chocolate ganache, creme catalan
Individual cheese plate
The desserts were served with a 2015 Frogmore Creek Iced Riesling

Pear parfait

Chocolate Gateaux

Cheese plate

The pear parfait was a well balanced dessert and not too sweet unlike the chocolate gateaux which was very rich.
The iced riesling matched well with both desserts and especially with the rich dark chocolate.
The cheese plate was considered to be underwhelming.
The evening was enjoyed by all present, but whilst the long wait for the food to start to arrive was an opportunity to talk and table hop and try the wines, the wait was too long for a restaurant of the calibre of Sails.

This entry was posted on March 12, 2017.

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.

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.