We arrive at the lunch venue to settle into a leisurely lunch for the afternoon. Neil Perry’s Rockpool has been a fixture on Sydney’s dining scene for years and I have always been impressed with his cuisine on board Qantas (both their First Class Lounges and On-board).
Some bread is brought to the table to start.
Honey and spelt bread with konbu butter and ricotta
One of my dining companions elects the first wine for the afternoon….
Gérard Boulay, La Côte (2014) Sancerre
The pale yellow colour of the wine gazes at you through the glasses with a longing affection. The first waft exudes a charming flirtation of sorts, normally experienced on a Friday night at a New York Bar. The alluring aromas of stone fruits, floral notes and discernible herbs seduce the nose. I lift the glass to my mouth while following the conversation with my dining companion but the moment the velvety Sancerre touches my tongue; my mind disengages from the conversation as all my senses are focused on the Sancerre. The crystalline minerality is certainly something. The purity of the wine allows the rich stone fruit flavours to flow effortlessly on the palate with a light touch of citrus becoming evident in what is refreshingly long finish.
Fraser Island Spanner Crab, Scrambled Eggs with Crisp Parmesan Toast
The silky soft spanner crab is flaky and falls apart on the tongue. It is delicately interwoven with the fluffy scrambled eggs on a rich thick sauce base. The crispy tart flavour of the parmesan toast adds extra richness to the dish. The dish exudes a velvety texture and sublime taste with every mouthful. A pure delight indeed.
My dining companions have the following dishes:
Tempura Prawns with Grated Daikon and Shiso
Kingfish Sashimi with Koshihikari Rice and Mirin Dressing
Another one of my dining companions opts for different bottle of wine, more suited to the main course (the lamb).
Joshua Cooper “Williougby Ridge”, Nebbiolo, (2013), Heathcote, Victoria
The wine has a light ruby colour with delicate notes of dried berries, spice which provide for an inviting introduction to the wine. On the palate the juicy flavours of berries, herbs and earthiness dominate and guide the wine through the palate while a beautiful soft tannins provides a lovely finish, that works very well with the lamb. The tannins flow into a beautiful savoury hit in the finish.
South Australian Lamb with Yuzu Koshu and Blue Cheese
The succulent and rare lamb oozes its natural juices which flow effortlessly on the palate. A good example of fine produce cooked simply. Unfortunately that’s where it ends for this dish. The blue cheese sauce on the base is rich and creamy and the other flavours (which are probably a touch subtle for the lamb) are a bit standalone without quite being as integrated and as harmonious as the entrée, indicating a little bit more thought was probably needed for this dish.
My dining companions order the following dishes:
Moreton bay Bug Strozzapreti Pasta with Crustacean Butter
Bass Grouper, Dan Dan Sauce, Black Fungus, Celery and Tarragon
The table spread of the sides is a delightful sight. We have the following:
Shaved Brussel sprouts, Bacon and Almond
Potato Dauphins with Konbu Butter
Roasted Zucchini with Parmesan and Basil Pesto
The fluffiness of the Potato Dauphins with the rich lather of the Konbu butter sauce is a pure treat while the textural contrasts inherent in the Brussel Sprouts side is a delight. The zucchini and pesto has a light breezy Mediterranean feel to it (in stark contrast to Sydney’s cold winter weather) and is balanced nicely with the richness of the shaved parmesan.
We all end-up ordering the same dessert….
Valrhona Chocolate with Macadamia, Malt and Burnt Orange Ice Cream
The smooth jelly, the caramel crunch of the macadamia, with the every so light citrus of the ice-cream is combined with a rich, dark, sensuously cocoa flavour of the Valrhona Chocolate. A very enjoyable dessert indeed.
Post Lunch Drinks
We decide to hang around for some post lunch drinks to see-out the afternoon and stay a little dry (as in away from the Sydney rain). I opt for a Cognac to start…
Frapin Chateau de Fontpinot XO Cognac
There is nothing that emotionally excites one more than the flow of golden syrupy cognac into a crystal glass. This cognac is a delight…on the nose it is interesting with some light floral perfumed aromas, vanilla with hints of apple and spice captivate the senses. On the palate there is the taste of sweet honey, nuts, a jammy mix of conserves (kind of like apricots and an orange marmalade) with a bite of ginger in the finish to bring one back to earth.
The clock ticks on and another seductive drop is chosen to see out the afternoon. This time it is the Bests Great Western, Bin 0, Shiraz (2013), Victoria.
The wine, in stark contrast to the colour of the Nebbiolo, has a very deep purple colour. The nose is interesting with the rich fruit flavours dissipating and making way for a strong herb flavours and saline waft. That was quite unexpected. On the palate the concentrated rich flavour of blackberries intensely beat the palate while herb and earth notes follow subsequently in unison. There are some good grainy tannins which are wonder and cleanse the palate and hold the wine together.
So ends a very lovely afternoon indeed.