8.44pm, Thursday 17th May, Noosa Parade, Noosa Heads, Queensland Sunshine Superb State
Back again, folks, because I just want to get some notes about today’s Festival opening event up on the blog before going to bed before midnight for the first time this week! Yay! Can’t complain though, as the reason we’ve been out so late is simply that at every event, the folks have loved the wines and have loved sitting around asking 20 questions about the whole Yalumba and Barossa world just as much.
So to today’s episode.
We left chillyville Toowoomba at 6.30am this morning to come down the Great Divide to our office in Brisbane – to meet up with Jayney Halls our Sunshine Coast megastar sales gal – destination Noosa Heads. The job? To open the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival with chefs Stephanie Alexander – responsible for the legendary Melbourne food landmarks Stephanie’s and Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder, plus now the prime mover putting great food into school kids’ worlds with her Kitchen Garden Foundation; and Nicky Reimer – ex apprentice in Stephanie’s kitchen, now with her own Melbourne eatery Union Dining in East Richmond. And the actual event? The Westpac Ruby Luncheon – Stephanie’s Entree with our 2011 Y Vermentino, Nicky’s Main Course with our 2010 Eden Valley Viognier, and a selection of Yarra Valley cheeses with our 2009 Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz.
Now before we go any further, I need to explain the “Westpac Ruby” part of the luncheon. Westpac bank have jumped in and really put together a complete department dedicated to helping Australian women from all walks of life to achieve whatever is on their own ‘to do’ lists. And that means in business, at home, financial independence, with respect to secure retirement, pretty much whatever is on their agendas. So they’ve chosen to support the Noosa Festival by putting on the opening event featuring three girls in the Australian Food and Wine biz (that’s us!) and there were 210 people packed into the marquee to be a part of it all.
Here are my partners in wine and food from todays lunch – that’s Nicky on the left
And as for the luncheon itself, the courses came out, and after main course all three of us were up on stage for the interview / question and answer session.
Stephanie’s Entree – apple and bacon salad quail eggs hazelnuts – and trust me when I tell you that the snappy acid and Granny Smith lights of the Vermentino palate were tops on a warm day with this Autumn style salad. Not quite sure how the chefs got those quail egg yolks so soft in such large numbers! Special! Have a look at this
Nicky’s Main – baked rockling mustard herb crust parsley puree balsamic shallots – and a quick explanation of a couple of things. “Parsley puree ” actually means fresh parsley and garlic whipped up with full cream. Yes folks … that’s proper cream, and why it tasted so jolly good! The fish was barely solid it was so moist. I asked Stephanie how that was possible – she just smiled and said – “a bit of white wine and water in the baking pan – it partially steams whilst it bakes”. There you have it kids … the simple stuff that gives such great results. The Eden Valley Viognier with the apricot ginger aromatic bits and slippery palate was tailor made for the fish, the parsley puree and the caramelized shallots – and for the record it had lovely lift when served chilled. Have a look at this,
Sorry folks, no pics of the individual cheese plates – was doing the question and answer session. But I do have the items – Yering camembert, black savourine, toasted walnuts, muscatels, wine paste.
All I can say when it’s all done and dusted is that the luncheon went tremendously well – and we were thrilled to bits to be a part of it all. Come Saturday and Sunday we have a couple of wine seminars on our agenda, and then I’ll be able to go and have a look at all the producers and chefs on show around the Festival. I’ll put the interesting things up as we go, so check back in to see what we find. Until then … thanks a stack to the Noosa Festival folks for the invitation to get involved with such a red hot event – both the luncheon and the Festival itself. And thanks to the Westpac Ruby initiative – these things can’t happen without some serious support, and you’re on a winner with today’s starting luncheon.
Now to an early night and a bit of a sleep in tomorrow morning. Yay! See you when it’s Friday.