The eighties are back in fashion and winemakers are hoping that chardonnay will be too. This is the message we receive at a recent chardonnay tasting dinner with Heemskerk winemaker Anna Pooley at the Park Hyatt Sydney.
The chardonnays of 2010, we are reassured, are not like the ones from twenty-five years ago. Shoulder pads may be back, explains event co-host and lifestyle columnist Melissa Hoyer, but now they're smaller and more tailored. Chardonnays have similarly been toned down, no longer the bold, fruity and high-alchohol tipple which was so heartily embraced in the late 1980s.
Our dinner takes place in the Ocean Harbour room, a private dining space with a spectacular waterfront view that is all twinkling lights and Opera House sails. When I arrive, I'm surprised to find the dinner is an event specifically created for food bloggers, tacked on with two winners from a Grazia competition who are a little bewildered at first by the camera action but commendably take everything in their stride.
Local cow’s milk burrata with vine ripened tomato and Lakelands olive oil
served with Seppelt Salinger Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2006 sparkling wine
We start with glasses of Seppelt Salinger 2006, a sparkling wine made by combining Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. It's light with a crisp finish and works well with our starting dish of local cow's milk burrata.
Burrata is a fresh cheese made by creating a pouch from buffalo mozzarella, stuffing it with mozzarella strips and then filling it with cream. It's said to have been invented as a way of using up the leftover scraps of mozzarella. There are few things more decadent then tearing apart a burrata ball and watching a flood of cream and mozzarella strips escape. It's the sexiest means imaginable of consuming cheese, the pureness of mozzarella awash with cream.
Lightly grilled tuna with green beans, olives and crisp potato
served with a Rosemount Diamond Label Unoaked Chardonnay 2009
A thick slice of seared tuna is our next dish, topped with a latticework of superfine potato shreds. Blobs of sauce that turn out to be tuna mixed with mayonnaise are an odd addition, but the quartered quail egg with a perfectly runny egg yolk is delicious and I deliberately save this for last. It's accompanied by a Rosemount Diamond Label Unoaked Chardonnay, marked by tropical fruit flavours and a lingering finish.
Toasted fregola cooked as a risotto with Australian scallops and puffed pork
served with a Rosemount Show Reserve Robe ‘Cool Climate’ Chardonnay 2009
Fregola is a Sardinian-style pasta that is similar to Israeli couscous, made from semolina dough that is rolled into balls and then toasted in an oven. Tonight it's cooked in a risotto style, providing a distinctive squeaky chewiness combined with a nutty flavour. Slices of cooked scallop surf on a wave of piquillo pepper foam, surrounded by a scattering of powdered pork crackling.
The Rosemount Show Reserve Robe 'Cool Climate' Chardonnay is a little spicier on the palate with a drier finish.
Barramundi fillet with poached leeks, celery and smoked oyster emulsion
served with Heemskerk Coal River Valley Chardonnay 2008
Barramundi fillet arrives next, the fish cooked to a fork-flaking tenderness with a crisp tile of skin. Poached leeks and celery are soft and comforting although it's hard to detect much oyster in the smoked oyster emulsion.
The fish is served with my favourite wine of the evening, the Heemskerk Coal River Valley Chardonnay 2008. Smooth on the palate, this is one of Heemskerk's reserve wines that is meticulously monitored. The 2008 vintage resulted in only 500 cases, most of which have been set aside specifically for restaurant wine cellars.
Slow roasted lamb saddle with lemon potato and spring vegetables
Two discs of rolled and slow-roasted lamb saddle conclude our savoury dishes. The meat is reassuringly pink in colour, served with green beans, turnip, Dutch carrot and lemon potatoes that aren't as lemony as I'd hoped. A trail of jus is the ideal sauce.
We find out later that the list of wines was provided to Executive Chef, Andrew McKee, who then created the menu with dishes to specifically complement each wine.
Vanilla creme brulee with rosemary sorbet
Dessert is a vanilla creme brulee, served unmolded so it sits directly on a lake of macerated strawberries. A quenelle of rosemary sorbet is elegantly formed and pristine white in colour, its pine resin flavours working well with the strawberries but perhaps overwhelming the delicacy of the creme brulee.
The creme brulee itself is smooth and silky, a little firmer in texture to enable unmolding, but satisfying rich and eggy.
If shoulder pads and chardonnay are back in fashion, what else should we bring back from the 1980s? Or what do you remember and resminisce about from that decade?
Grab Your Fork attended the chardonnay dinner as a guest of the Park Hyatt Sydney and Hausmann Communications.
View Larger Map
Harbour Kitchen & Bar
Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney
7 Hickson Road, The Rocks, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9256 1661
Monday to Saturday 6.30am-10.30am
Sunday 6.30am - 11.00am
Monday to Sunday 12.00pm-2.30pm
Monday to Sunday 6.00pm-10.30pm
FREEBIE FRIDAY WINNER
Congratulations to the winner of the Freebie Friday competition with a prize of AU$200 worth of hotel accommodation anywhere in the world. HotelsCombined.com has chosen the very entertaining anecdote by Eyes Bigger Than Belly. Congratulations! You can read her entry here and check out everyone else's entries too. There were lots of eyebrow-raising stories!
There are plenty more competitions on offer here at Grab Your Fork. Don't delay - enter now, and remember you can enter once per day as long as each answer is different.
- Win a Royal High Tea package for two worth AU$135 (Entries close Mon 26 April)
- Win a copy of The Salt Book (Entries close Tue 4 May)
- Win a place at a masterclass with Tetsuya Wakuda (Entries close Tue 4 May)
- Win a magic Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs umbrella (Entries close Mon 24 May)
17 comments - Add some comment love
4/19/2010 03:26:00 a.m.