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.

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


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

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.