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Monday, April 19, 2010

Park Hyatt Sydney chardonnay tasting dinner

he 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.

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Harbour Kitchen & Bar
Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney
7 Hickson Road, The Rocks, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9256 1661

Opening hours:
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



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.
17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/19/2010 03:26:00 am


  • At 4/19/2010 8:29 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Chardonnays have never been out of fashion for me - I'm not a big drinker, but I'll usually opt for a good chardonnay (or a rose) when I do drink. Oh wait... perhaps this doesn't quite work, if you're referring to wine 25 years ago. I wasn't even here 25 years ago :P

    What should we bring back from the 80s? Definitely not mullets, or leg warmers, or huge perms, or... hmmm, maybe a true 80s child should answer this.

    P.S. And while they do, could I eat the rest of that rosemary sorbet? Kthnxbai. :D

  • At 4/19/2010 8:32 am, Anonymous The Ninja said…

    Nice shooting, nice write-up. Surprised how much stuff already slipped my mind...

    My reminiscing only goes back to the 1990's, I'm afraid.

  • At 4/19/2010 11:31 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Nice write up with the post.

    I'm a big fan of 1980's prices, though I doubt that'll come back into fashion any time soon :)

  • At 4/19/2010 12:42 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    I don't mind chardonnay especially if you can pare it with such wonderful food you showed us in this blog BUT PLEASE - no more leg warmers!

  • At 4/19/2010 2:44 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Bring back the awesome music! It's sad to think that they'll never make good music like they did in the old days. Oh and the mullets hehe. I miss the 80's! :(

    Btw I'm now craving that brulee... sigh...

  • At 4/19/2010 3:08 pm, Blogger Two fit and fun gals said…

    alot of the fashion from the eighties is making a come back hehe

    the creme brulee looks so good yummy

  • At 4/19/2010 6:48 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Bring back the 80s I say! I am laughing at your description of the two Grazia winners being totally overwhelmed by food bloggers!

  • At 4/19/2010 7:35 pm, Anonymous Pocohontas said…

    Bring back Hulk Hogan, Jake the Snake, Benny Hill, the Goodies and ruffled socks.

    What about home deliveried/Crystal soft drinks and Sunny Boys?

  • At 4/19/2010 7:38 pm, Anonymous Speedy said…

    Bring back home delivered unhomegenised milk in glass bottles with the thick, think cream layer on top.

    Bring back the good old days when you could leave your milk money at the front of your house in a yellow envelope and no one would nick it

  • At 4/19/2010 7:49 pm, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    The burrata looks delish.

    Wake me up before you go go...to a funky town.

    Bring back Punky Brewster, KB beer with fanta and corner store lollies. It was amazing what you could buy for 20c.

    Hold back mullets, bad perms (guilty as charged) and ski pants.

  • At 4/19/2010 11:23 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    Wow beautiful photos Helen! You been to any photography workshop recently?! LOL!

    The burrata sounds so pornish! LOL

  • At 4/21/2010 1:36 pm, Anonymous Wine Esky said…

    Food looks very yummy. What do you think about the smaller shoulder pads (new Chardonnays)? I like both oaky, heavy Chardonnays and the light, low % alcohol ones too!

  • At 4/21/2010 4:23 pm, Blogger Ali Jane said…

    Yes, well ... I am that competition winner - was a little funny to see everyone simultaneously whip out their HUGE cameras! Was a beautiful degustation dinner - loved the pairing of wines - all beautifully selected. Thanks for the mention ...

  • At 4/23/2010 1:11 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - lol. Now you're making me feel old! Great to hear you're a chardonnay fan though.

    The eighties were cheesy times indeed :)

    Hi The Ninja - Thanks and you didn't do too badly yourself :)

    Hi Simon - But does that also mean you're happy with 1980s wages too?

    Hi Trissa - Ha, I remember headband and sweatbands and those little anklet socks with pom poms at the back...

    Hi Karen - I'd love to see you with a mullet :)

    The brulee was good although I'm sure you could knock up a very decadent version yourself.

    Hi Betty - It's quite scary isn't it? I think the MC Hammer pants have been the most alarming revival!

    Hi Gourmet Chick - They did well to not bat an eyelid. And the competition winner has commented below. Hi Alison!

    Hi Pocahontas - Benny Hill! Oh dear! But yeah I used to love The Goodies. Goody goody yum yum...

    Hi Speedy - I remember those milk bottles. I used to always stuff up opening the foil cap off those and yes, hard to believe we used to leave money outside and noone would steal it.

    Hi Veruca Salt - The burrata was off the charts in terms of amazing.

    And haha at Punky Brewster! I used to love cobblers from the corner store and oh dear ski pants! Too funny.

    Hi Billy - lol. I took these pics before the workshop but yeah, you can have the credit anyway. lol.

    The burrata will make you behave as though you're in a porn movie. I promise!

    Hi Wine Esky - I used to prefer unoaked chardonnays but I did find the oaked ones this evening not as heavy as I'd remembered. I do tend to favour lighter wines, but definitely interesting to see how wine styles change and evolve even within the varietal.

    Hi Alison - Hello! Thanks for stopping by! I cannot begin to imagine being thrust unknowingly into a room full of food bloggers but it was a great night and our conversation on fave TV shows was very entertaining! The food and wine were both lovely as you mentioned.

  • At 4/23/2010 1:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmmm love re-living each dish through your photos and words and omg that burrata

  • At 4/24/2010 11:05 am, Blogger mr. pineapple man said…

    looks very luxurious~ great photos

  • At 4/29/2010 8:48 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi FFichiban - The burrata was amazing wasn't it?

    Hi Mr Pineapple Man - Thanks so much. Mood lighting is always a welcome challenge!


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