Oh wow, this post is well and truly overdue. The reason for the delay you will see if you scroll back a few posts. I was in mourning and definitely not in the right frame of mind to write about such a wonderful lunch.
And what a wonderful lunch it turned out to be! Amazing people, brilliant food, and of course incredible wines from Stoneleigh.
You’re probably thinking why wouldn’t a wine inspired lunch be a success? Well, I have a confession to make. I’m really shy around people I don’t know, and a little on the insecure side too.
The moment I pressed publish for the announcement post my stomach was in knots. Would I be Nancy no friends? I mean, who would want to come and have lunch with me and seven other strangers? Sure I was dangling the carrot of amazing wine and food to entice people to come along, but the anxiety attacks were hard and fast until that first person left a comment on Belly Rumbles saying they would like to come along.
I had a wonderful response from readers and really shouldn’t have panicked. But then there was the lunch itself. Would it go well? Would people find me boring? Would my readers like me in the flesh?
I was nervous before the Saturday lunch. I wanted everything to be perfect. I didn’t have to worry about the wine, I knew that was going to be amazing. The food, having eaten at Chiswick before, I was pretty sure everyone would love. The swag bags I organised for those attending were filled with something fun and delicious. Even using gorgeous bags I found that my guests could use over and over again. But of course everything didn’t run smoothly, there were the caramels………
Oh yes, those damn caramels.
I wanted to make caramels for my guests. In my mind they would be these gloriously delicious looking French caramels, which would be the name settings on the table.
Pfffft, yeah right. In reality I was up until 2am making (insert all the swear words you would like) caramels. Talk about an epic fail, batch after batch they just wouldn’t set to the right consistency. I got there, just, only after numerous failed batches. My fridge is still full of caramel sauces of varying consistency.
With everything finally coming together on Saturday I headed to the Art Gallery of NSW for lunch.
The staff at Chiswick had organised a lovely table overlooking Sydney Harbour and Wooloomooloo Bay - a stunning setting for our lunch. Swag bags and caramels were put in place just before my guests arrived. As guests arrived and I started chatting to them all, the nerves disappeared and I was thrilled to be having lunch with this wonderful group of people.
At lunch I was lucky to also have Katherine Candy from Stoneleigh Wines join us. When I was asked if I would like Katherine to come along I didn’t hesitate. Having met her before and knowing how passionate and knowledgeable she was about Stoneleigh and wines in general, I would be a fool not to have her join us. Trust me, Katherine’s explanations of the wines we had were far more intelligent than my “ooo I like this one” and “Isn’t that a pretty pink”.
Our lunch was Chiswick’s collective menu, which includes a range of dishes designed to share and eat ‘family style’. The dishes also paired beautifully with the Stoneleigh range we enjoyed during the course of the meal.
oyster, finger lime and native basil
garlic flatbread, olive oil and oregano
To start with, there were some light offerings and being an oyster lover and fan of native Australian ingredients, the oysters were a favourite of mine. The bursts of finger lime, plus native basil worked wonderfully with the oysters.
To accompany our first course we enjoyed Stoneleigh’s Pinot Noir Rosé. My wine novice thoughts on the wine are, as stated above, it’s such a pretty pink. But what I really love about this rosé is that it isn’t sweet, and is very easy to drink. I think a perfect one for a lazy weekend lunch.
The experts would have this to say about the wine. “The Pinot Noir Rosé displays an abundance of ripe red cherry and raspberry aromas which lead into a palate of strawberry, dark red cherries and cranberry flavours. The palate is intense and elegant and complemented by a refreshing, crisp dry finish.”
Green tomatoes, olive, radish, marjoram and tomato dressing
petuna ocean trout, baby beetroots, wasabi & coriander
crispy chilli chicken, cucumber and kimchi
I was thrilled that green tomatoes were on the menu as this is something quite a few people haven’t tried before. As well as being a very tasty dish it was a great conversation piece.
The ocean trout was a favourite amongst most that attended, some saying that it was their favourite dish of the meal. I may also add that the crispy chilli chicken went down well too.
Stoneleigh Malborough Sauvignon Blanc accompanied these dishes. I am no stranger to this wine, as I do tend to keep a couple of bottles in my wine rack at home. I regard it as a very easy to drink wine, I make it sound a bit like the rosé. Wine expert I’m not, I just know what I like. What I like about this particular wine is that it is clean on the palate, which lends itself to quite a variety of food.
And the experts would say. “This vibrant and lively Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is light straw in colour with subtle green highlights. It displays lifted tropical fruit aromas, with the dominance of passionfruit, citrus blossom and grapefruit. This follows through to a palate that features ripe tropical fruit, melon and stone fruit flavours with a complex minerality that is balanced by a tight and fresh acidity.”
Gnocchi, peas, zucchini flowers and chives
whole roast snapper, nori, ginger and coriander
slow roast Moran family lamb, romesco, Israeli cous cous and charred capsicum
steamed greens, chilli and lemon
Everyone went gaga over the Moran family lamb, it just fell away from the bone and the lamb lovers around the table felt it was a brilliant dish.
I personally went gaga over the snapper, which was beautifully cooked, full of flavour, tender, juicy and did I say perfectly cooked? I think I did, but it really was. The gnocchi were soft pillows of deliciousness.
To accompany our final savoury dishes we enjoyed Stoneleigh’s Pinot Noir. This wine was a big hit with everyone. What I love most about the Pinot Noir is it's a light red, but doesn’t lack in the flavour stakes.
The experts say it far better. “Pinot Noir, this wine has a deep, ruby red hue and a fragrant bouquet of strawberry, blackberry and dark cherry overlaid with integrated oak spice. The palate shows ripe, dark berry fruit and cherry flavours with lingering fruit sweetness. Tannins are soft and supple, making the wine immediately approachable.”
Peach Melba, yoghurt sorbet and native thyme
Chiswick chocolate mousse cake, hazel nut and passionfruit
I had the Peach Melba, a modern twist on the classic, and a lovely light way to end the meal. I stole a mouthful of the Chiswick chocolate mousse cake from the person beside me. I would have been quite happy with this option as well and loved the contrast of the passionfruit tang with the chocolate.
If we hadn’t already eaten enough, we finished off with a generous cheese platter. Of course we accompanied this with some more Pinot Noir.
The cheese platter included Maffra aged cheddar, Berry’s Creek Bellingham blue, Woodside Dairy Charleston Brie and Yarra Valley Dairy le Jack White mould.
I am pretty sure that everyone had a wonderful time. Lots of good food, brilliant wine, laughs and smiles. I really don’t think I should have panicked, everyone did seem to enjoy themselves and we ended up leaving Chiswick just before 5pm.
Thank you to all that attended, Katherine and also to Ellbee who jumped in last moment to help me with the photographs at lunch.
Belly Rumbles would like to acknowledge its partnership with Stoneleigh in regard to the readers’ lunch at Chiswick and the related posts.
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