5.22pm, Monday 11th October, Still in The Clocktower, Yalumba, The Barossa
Heading toward hometime for the day, and I’ll finish off with the big finish to our UK roadtrip – the London Double Header: trade lunch with sommeliers and press at Pearl, followed by a masterclass with members of the Eight Club in Moorgate.
First up – Pearl.
This is one of the truly beautiful dining rooms in London. Dark timber paneling, extraordinary high open ceilings, and all the area separation at ground level done with screens constructed from ‘pearl’ laden wires. This is the home stove for celebrity ‘in the true sense of the word – never in the tabloids’ chef Jun Tanaka. Ex Le Gavroche, Chez Nico, The Capital, The Square, The Restaurant Marco Pierre White, and The Oak Room, Jun has the absolute five-star culinary track record, so it’s no surprise that most of his dishes not only have the aromas and flavours going on – they’re more or less ‘edible art’ as well. We went across the board with this tasting, featuring the Cabernet Shiraz blends, the Viogniers, the Rieslings, the middle weight reds with the 2008 Bush Vine Grenache and the 2008 Running With Bulls Tempranillo, and the Shiraz and Shiraz Viognier blends. Thanks a huge amount to the fabulous sommelier at Pearl – Frederic – for all the glassware to do the job! After a rapid fire question-and-answer tasting and Twitter (we had the high tech press there!) session, and after much discussion, here are the highlights of the day:
I call this starter “Not just dried tomatoes!” – Jun Tanaka’s Chilled Heritage Tomatoes in Jelly, Fromage Frais Confit, Cherry Tomatoes & Basil Sorbet – and that was stunning as it was a completely cold dish, but lost nothing at all with concentration of flavours or textures. The 2004 Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling loved it, and the acid of the tomatoes met the settled-down toast and butter of the aged riesling – with citrus still over the top and somewhere the cold basil slid in nicely as well. Spot on.
And if you like that one – check out this picture of the pork belly dish.
I’m actually fairly thrilled with how well my food photography has come on this year, and I reckon this might be the best shot yet! Jun’s Crisp Suckling Pork Belly with English Ceps, Bramley Apple Puree & White Polenta was the dish of the day as far as the boys were concerned, and they rated the 2007 Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier with it as one of the best food wine combinations they’d seen in ages. Leaner but still velvety Shiraz than you’d expect from The Barossa with Thai basil and red berry aromatic lift was just the ticket with the flavour and texture crossovers of the pork belly. Actually – the photo really is good enough to eat!
And finally – there was something on the cheeseboard that I hadn’t seen before – so I thought I’d put it in. The second cheese from the right that looks like it has a charcoal line through it – it’s French, it’s made from cows milk, and it’s called called Morbier (pronounced more – bee – ay): that’s for folks like me who don’t speak French). And here’s the thing: Traditionally, they milked the cows in the evening, made a soft fresh cheese layer, then sprinkled that with ash to stop a rind forming, then they milked the cows in the morning and lay that soft cheese layer on top – to complete the finished cheese ‘wheel’ thingy. They create a washed rind exterior, then age the cheese for at least 60 days and ta da … the cheese as it appears in the picture. Not smelly at all – I’m not a big fan of that – but elastic creamy and went well with the 2007 Botrytis Viognier actually. But then I’ve got a real sweet tooth, and there’s not much that doesn’t go well with the Botrytis Viognier!