How lucky was I when The Food Marshall asked if I wanted to accompany her to the Taltarni Wine Dinner at Peppercress Restaurant at the Canberra Southern Cross Club. This dinner had already been sold out, but she worked her magic and scored us seats.
This is my second wine dinner this year at the CSCC, with food again provided by head chef Anurag Gautam and his team. Check out my review of the CSCC Chef's Signature Dinner held at the Yacht Club last year.
So... without further ado, onto the menu...
The first course, a canape, matched its title perfectly and was indeed a 'surprise'. An innovative presentation of a tortilla wrapped into a cornet, filled with caviar, smoked salmon, and the surprise foie gras at the base. A very tasty morsel, teamed with the Taltarni Blanc de Blanc.
Next up was a succulent soy poached yellow fin tuna, atop pureed eggplant and scattered with sea bananas. What are sea bananas you ask? small plant pods found in coastal dunes, shaped like, well, bananas! Also known as Pig Face. Check out this informative post about 'tucker in the dunes'. A Taltarni Fume Blanc was the yin to this course's yang. 'Fume' means to 'smoke', with some of this Sauvignon Blanc fermented naturally, and some in French barriques.
Smoked duck was the next course to arrive and was quite a surprise. It didn't look like duck. In fact it looked like thick bacon, curled on the plate. Smoked in Anurag's 'industrial size' smoker with hickory, the duck held the smokey flavour and had a wonderfully dense meaty texture. It was accompanied by a sweet almost marmalade like citrus sauce, and a baby pear. Plate lickingly good.
Phew! still going OK? Hang on, because the lamb arrived next. A short loin of Pyrenees lamb, coated in merguez spices, and swimming in a beautifully rich, sweet jus. This was joy to eat, and cut like butter. Anurag certainly knows how to keep his customers happy! Matching this was a bold Taltarni Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, punchy and strong.
An interlude of brie, crackers and fresh figs arrived to cleanse the palette. A straightforward offering, but fresh and moreish. A 2012 Taltarni Estate Shiraz sat side by side with this dish.
The last course of the night was dessert. A wee pastry tart filled with a sharp passionfruit curd, sesame shortbread biscuit on top, and crunchy baby meringues scattered about. It was just the perfect size for dessert after such a food journey. The wine match for this course was something special. It was the Taltarni Cordon Cut Sauvignon Blanc. Cordon cut is a method I had never heard of. It involves cutting the main fruit bearing cordon on the vine, which results in the nutrients being removed back from the fruit, but leaving the large sugar molecules in the fruit. The grapes shrivel, meaning more fruit to flesh ratio, resulting in a sweet but intensely fruity flavoured wine.
Thanks all round to CSCC, Taltarni and The Food Marshall for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.