9.37pm, Tuesday 9th May, Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Evening folks, and it’s a very very cold one out there. I’ve just come in from our trade tasting over in Kingston at ‘Gryphons Caffe and Bar’ hosted by the gorgeous blokey bookend owners Dan and Drew. But what I want to catch up on is last nights event – our first ever wine dinner with the Royal Canberra Golf Club. I arrived just on dusk with our man in Canberra – Mick Riddle – and right there on the 18th hole, just below the clubhouse deck – were about 20 kangaroos. Yep, perched right there on the fairway as the last golfers of the day finished up. It was a bit too dark to get a decent photo, but I hope this will give you a bit of an idea.
We had a top turnout on the night – 50 wine interested members plus our long time mate the wine and food journo Christine Salins, and the folks from The Boathouse restaurant on Lake Burley Griffin. We’d sent a set of the Rare & Fine wines down to executive chef Neil Abrahams, and he has set the bar incredibly high in the ‘food fits perfectly with the wine’ stakes with the menu he put together last night! Here’s my menu showing you the notes I made when Neal was casually rolling through his choices – bearing in mind that nothing at all was left behind on the dinner plates folks……nothing!
Now here’s just some of Neils best work……
With the Eden Valley Viognier and Virgilius exotic twinset, part of the ‘Seafood Renaissance’ combination plate of tastes, listen to this “crispy fried prawn and pork belly” and “beetroot and passionfruit jam” Sounds harmless enough, but the prawn was butterflied and stuffed with minced pork belly, then wrapped in a crunchy pastry and deep fried – and when that was waved through the beetroot relish laced with twangy fresh passionfruit – it was spot on the money with the stone fruit and slippery bits in those viogniers. Obvious to all at this early stage that we were in for something special!
On to the “Assiette de une Chevre” – the inspiration for this goat based dish came whilst Neil was wandering through the Adelaide Central Market Recently…..”Cutlet of goat and foie gras, Pommes fondant, Confit goat shoulder and truffle pie, baked figs, celeriac Puree and jus”…..just the Mediterranean slow cooked thing for the Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon double of the 2010 The Cigar, and the 2008 The Menzies.
I’m going to jump straight through to the dessert moment, because it’s totally old school, like me. The wine in this situation? The 2011 FSW 8 B ‘Fine Sweet White’ Botrytis Viognier – all honey, apricot and nougat for mine. What does Neil put on the plate to hold the sweet viognier’s hand?
“steamed lemon butter pudding with lemon curd, poached quince and vanilla bean ice cream”
Some nights folks…..you just have to give in and love your job!
What a fabulous first night – thanks a huge amount RCGC! Besides the ‘tippy top’ (thats a very big accolade folks) chef, let me tell you about the wonderful stemware – a fresh glass for each wine. And the red hot waiters that juggled all that stemware and the plates with a complete minimum of fuss. That’s the front of house man Cam and his talented young team. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the House Committee has asked back next year – sensational! You know, having the opportunity to come back to such a lovely golfing spot, I should really learn to play this jolly game!
Oh, and by the way, the Royal Canberra Golf Club will be hosting the 2013 Australian Women’s Open next year as well. The good times just do not stop at the RCGC!
PS check out Christine Salins’ blog ” foodwinetravel.com.au” it’s a great read