Wine on the Water

Today's theme: water

6.25am, Friday 14th May, Kent Street,  Sydney, NSW, Australia
We have lots to tell this morning. We’ve got a common thread already this trip – most of our jobs are “on the water” of some sort – and being from the landlocked Barossa Valley where water is at an absolute premium, this is turning out to be a major treat on this roadtrip.  Just to catch up:

Wednesday night: corporate event at Aria
We went from one working harbour in Newcastle to the cliffs above Merewether Beach, to another working harbour in Sydney. I truly don’t think there is any body of water that rivals this one on a clear night – Circular Quay, the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, North Sydney, and the Opera House. And we were at one long table at Aria with the lights down, floor to ceiling glass – right on top of it all. This was a one-off event where we used a completely different set of our wines – The Great 8. These wines all come from Yalumba or vineyards owned by the Hill Smith Family, and they truly represent the top of our world in all directions.

We opened with the new 2006 Jansz Vintage Rose from the top right corner of Tasmania in “Australia’s ice bucket”.

Then there was a series of small tasting plates geared to each wine – but nothing fussy – all lovely flavours and some with aromas that got to the table before they did!

Virgilius and scampi

The 2003 Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling – star of the recent Vancouver Wine Fair – was paired with sashimi and tartare of yellowfin tuna. I’ve put in a pic of my favourite – the Western Australian scampi wrapped in Tunisian brik pastry with the 2008 Virgilius Viognier. The other combos that seemed to be the group faves on the night – Kurobota sweet pork belly with pork croquette with the 2007 Heggies Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay; and the cheese plate with the 2004 Yalumba The Reserve Cabernet Shiraz.

These events are something we’ve been doing when people want to have a special moment for their corporate clients or supporters, and with wine and food – there are endless opportunities to put something super duper together – we’re just limited by our imagination really. And for the record, Aria deserves every accolade they have accumulated. The food, the wine preparation and service, the place itself from the moment you walk in – it is definitely one of our  Australian “dress circle” restaurants.

The Rocket lunch gang

Thursday lunch
This was a trade event set up by our folks who look after Sydney downtown through to the Northern Beaches – Luca and Elaine. Here they are with Con, Andrew and Mick from The Rose Hotel across in Chippendale. We were back to the Great Australian Red story with the wines, and the folks at The Rocket Restaurant in Chatswood looked after us on their deck. Really solid simple flavours were exactly the right thing on the day, and we covered a lot of ground, with folks coming along from Whale Beach and Balgowlah in the north to Rosehill Racecourse out west.

Sharon and Jane working hard

Speaking of Rosehill – home of the Golden Slipper, one of the richest races for 2-year-old horses in Australia,- here’s Sharon and I talking serious business about doing something special out that way down the track! And on such a sunny autumn afternoon, the Rocket spoiled us with their watermelon sorbet over berry jelly and coconut pannacotta – here it is.

Garth and Ramy

Thursday night – consumer dinner at the Sugaroom
This was something Garthy G (our restaurant man in Sydney ) set up around Christmas time last year, when we heard that one of our great mates in Sydney – Ramy Shellhot  (I’ve put a pic in of Ramy and Garth in so you can see some more of our partners in wine) – told us he was making a move from the Museum of Sydney Cafe around the harbour to the Sugaroom in Pyrmont. You’ll find the Sugaroom on the quiet backwater of Johnston’s Bay, one around toward the Harbour Bridge from the Pyrmont Fish Market – opposite the refurbished wharf that used to be the home of the NSW Water Police, and will soon be a regular stop on the inner harbour Sydney ferry route. The restaurant itself is in a building that used to be part of the Colonial Sugar Refinery, set up in the 1800s – hence the name.

This was Ramy and chef Nick Clarke’s first wine dinner here, so we were thrilled to bits to be the wine half of the night. I always like to have my dinner early, then I can talk my face off and get around all the tables, so Nick sorted me a solid bowl of the hand made pappardelle pasta soaking up a sticky veal ragout that kept me going all night. That’s worth seeking out the Sugaroom on it’s own – especially if you take it outside and have it at one of the tall tables on the verandah – 3 metres from the wharfside. We had about 60 people turn out – mostly who walked to the dinner from the local area – and a top night was had by all, trust me. We even played wine options, and used the back vintage 2002 The Reserve as the mystery wine. So we feel that the Sugaroom is suitably christened, and Ramy has decided that the Yalumba dinner will be an annual autumn red wine event – so we’ll see you next year!

Those mousse biscuits and lemon tarts

PS I couldn’t go without leaving you with a pic of Nic’s petit fours plate that went out with coffee. The baby lemon curd tarts were one thing, but the chocolate mousse “biscuits” – soft fluffy mousse centre with a crisp chocolate flake shell, individually cut from logs straight out of the fridge – were nothing short of sensational. If you’re looking for a special Sydney day on the water, go find the Sugaroom, and tell them we sent you.

Now to today! We’ve got a corporate event today, and a sporting world event tonight – then it’s a weekend off, so that means SLEEP IN! See you sometime Saturday afternoon.

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