Great Flavours on Our Plates and in Our Glass

9.29am, Thursday 20th May, Diplomat Hotel, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Wow – how easy is it to drop off the air for three days when you get tangled up on the road! Sorry folks, but here’s where I catch us up whilst in Canberra for two days.

Tongue in Cheek - for real

Tuesday, 18th May
We did a trade lunch down at Walsh Bay opposite the wharf that houses the Sydney Theatre Company, at Arras. Their three-chef team were featured on Masterchef that night doing their signature dish “Tongue in Cheek”, which was on for lunch as well. I cut the end off mine so you can see the way that the tongue is layered in between the braised beef cheeks. My folks from the offal dinner in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago would have been in seventh heaven!

The Consomme

I personally couldn’t go there, but loved the little starter dish which I also took a pic of for you – the tomato consomme with cheese beignet (dumpling deep fried doughnut-style) and one of Arras’s own baked organic sourdough rolls.

Then it was into the car and down to Wollongong to do a consumer dinner for 100 people at The Dunes Brasserie with our old mate Simon Hurford, who used to own The Oxford Tavern. Simon’s a big Barossa man who has supported Yalumba forever, and he now works for the Tosti Group – which is the Kollaras Brothers, Michael & Tass, who own The Dunes. We hadn’t been down to the ‘Gong for a dinner for several years, so it was great to have such a major turnout on a Tuesday night. Murray the chef put a small tasting dish together for each of the five wines, and we put our best Great Australian Red foot forward by showing the Cabernet Shiraz treble:

We had a rowdy night in the end with everyone from patrons of the Oxford Tavern, the local Food & Wine Society, the successful owners of the local star greyhound Tifi (who has just had nine track-destined pups), to folks just looking for a top wine and food night out – having just that!

The Kollaras boys had such a good time that they tried to adopt me – calling me Jane Ferrari-opolopolous! Not sure that works, but it’s been set, and we will be back to do the Yalumba Red Dinner same time in Wollongong next year. Thanks to Mitch our man on the board (the surfboard that is) down south for all the set-up work – much appreciated.

See ya, Wollongong

Last water pic for Wollongong as we said goodbye is the Kiama lighthouse, about half a mile away from The Dunes.

Wedneday, 19th May
Drove down to Canberra from Wollongong and slept a couple of hours in the afternoon – very unusual for me, but I think I’ve only just got back into the local time zone properly from that last trip away. Don’t know why, but it’s always easier to adjust going to the USA compared with coming home from the USA.

The beef

Last night was one of the big nights on our calendar. We do a dinner at The National Gallery in conjunction with one of their major exhibitions. Previously we’ve done the Frederick McCubbin, last year the Degas, and this year the Hans Heysen event. It was a ‘best of South Australia’ thing, with Hans Heysen being famous for the gums, bush, river and coast landscapes – particularly featuring the Adelaide Hills and Flinders Ranges. The new chef at the National Gallery is James Kidman (ex Ottos in Sydney), and he did a fantastic job of showing off South Australian produce next to our wines. I chose the ‘Coonawarra sirloin of beef studded with foie gras, Jerusalem artichoke cream, braised Waygu brisket, pearly speck & cipolline ‘ as my top combo with the 2005 The Signature and 2004 The Reserve.

Again and again on this tour, we’ve seen so much fantastic flavour on the plate, and it’s obvious already that we can hold our own with anything food-wise that’s happening anywhere in the world! 

Thanks to our local man Simon and to Francis from the Gallery – we’ll be back to see what’s in the frame same time next year.

PS Congratulations to the National Gallery on their recent French Masterpieces exhibition. With 400,000 visitors, they exceeded all expectations with respect to the popularity of the event, and had to come up with busker entertatinment , sausage sizzles, coffee carts and whatever worked – to look after the folks who queued for hours to see the great works of art.

So that brings us up to date, and I’ll be back in the morning to finish off Canberra.

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