The Pantry

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Location

I arrive in Manly and its the Jazz festival today, the crowds are out in full force, the sun shines with such a radiance and the backdrop of cool tunes makes one feel like they’re in Chicago (c’mon you’ve seen the movie… and all that jazz).

I have made a lunch booking at the Pantry, which is a lovely waterfront venue right on Manly beach… and here is the view from my seat!

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Here is the entrance…

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The counter has a Hampton’s touch to it…

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The Vines Pinot Grigio (2013), South Eastern Australia

I order a lovely glass of Pinot Grigio to start the afternoon… I dunno, what’s more beautiful the view or the wine?

I am just captivated by the view, the charm and beauty of this place… couldn’t ask for more on a sunny Saturday could I?

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The wine has these beautiful pear and peach aromas which escape the glass to create the perfect setting for the wine. There are hints of light honey and citrus tang which flows through to taste, while the crisp sparkly acidity just rounds out the drinking experience to place a stamp on this lovely summer day.

Scallops, Machengo, Sour Cream, Jamon and Breadcrumbs

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The sheer beauty of having the scallops in their shells just ticks the aesthetics box. Love it. The crunchy breadcrumbs provide the perfect texture offset from the succulent scallops and the consistency of the soft melted cheese. The cream, the residual salt from jamon and the richness of the cheese interacts in pleasant harmony with the scallops which retain and indeed “defend” their natural flavours in this dish and throughout the tasting experience.

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Bellwether ‘Ant Series’ Shiraz Malbec (2012) from South Australia

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An afternoon like this typically calls for a sparkling wine or the Pinot Grigio I just had with the scallops… but today I kinda feel like a deep full-bodied wine and there is a Shiraz Malbec from South Australia that has my name on it. It’s the Bellwether ‘Ant Series’ Shiraz Malbec (2012) from South Australia.

The wine has the waft of dark chocolate, spices and dark fruits (primarily cherry) which flow through into a powerful warm, deep, rustic and velvety taste experience on the palate. The full uninterrupted dark fruit flavours and the hints of dark chocolate make this such a rich and sensational drinking experience.

Venison Wellington with Hierloom Carrots, Potato Mash and Sour Cherry Sauce 

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I just love venison; in fact I would consider the venison dish at Eleven Madison Park in NYC one of the best dishes I have ever tried (check out the review here). The Venison Wellington comprises of a tenderloin (eye fillet), coated with chestnut and mushroom duxelle and prosciutto then wrapped with puff pastry.

The flaky buttery pastry introduces this dish with flair and a light crispness. Beneath the pastry is a beautiful wrap of prosciutto which releases a salty flavour, while the soft nutty chestnut puree adds a beautiful texture to the dish and the earthy flavour of the mushrooms provide a lovely flavour contrast to the prosciutto.

Then the moment I have been waiting for… the succulent juicy venison’s distinctive game flavour just shines and casts an air of irrelevance to the other ingredients… it makes its place known in the dish. The venison is beautiful, well cooked with a beautiful pink centre and the full flavour of the meat on full display. The interaction between the different ingredients is seemless and  the sticky sweetness and ‘tart’ sour flavour of the cherry sauce interupts the dish to give the game meat its usual accompaniment

On the side the soft but firm carrots are beautiful and the light fluffy moist potato mash is the perfect comfort side one could hope for.

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Windowrie ‘The Mill’ Shiraz, (2012), NSW 

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I try for a change of scene and opt for a NSW Shiraz. As a West Aussie, I can never fully embrace other Shiraz… its Margaret River all the way for me, but this one’s okay. There isn’t the deep velvety feel of the last wine. This wine is far more fruit based with the distinct aromas of plum shining through. Its well balanced with a real fruit intensity and a light bite of oak in the finish.

Affogato

I opt for a light dessert…

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Dessert is a lovely contrast of textures, flavours and temperatures. The velvety crema, the bitter espresso and the richness of the ice-cream. The contrast of cold and warm is evident with the inner firmness of the ice-cream and the outer scoop which has felt the wrath of the espresso and has melted into a runny molten liquid. It’s a refreshing pick-me-up dessert that prolongs the afternoon gaze of the beach! I just love it.

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Overall the lunch was wonderful, beautiful wines, wonderful friendly attentive staff, amazing food and a view that would capture the heart of even the most seasoned traveler.

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