Two Good Nights

Andrew Olle Media Lecture

Andrew Olle Media Lecture

It’s lunchtime Saturday and I’ve just finished listening back to last night’s Andrew Olle Media Lecture, which I really enjoyed. Last night’s lecture was given by News Limited CEO, John Hartigan, who carried on a theme earlier expressed by Lachlan Murdoch that good journalism and good business aren’t mutually exclusive. In expressing the view the digital age hadn’t “dumbed down” journalism, but had raised the bar significantly, he did however state a concern that younger journalists, these days, spend too much time in the office.

As usual, it was a star-studded event, and from time to time throughout the night I had a wander around the room for a bit of “star spotting”. I have some totally salacious gossip from the night, including confirmation of a high-profile media relationship and the story of a media wanna-be who was indignant that I failed to recognise her. In fact nobody seemed to recognise her. But you’ll have to ask me for those stories in person.

The other great night out I’ve had was dinner with Damo on Thursday at Bentley Bar. As he is going overseas shortly, I took him out for dinner. Throwing caution to the wind, we decided to have the degustation menu which was excellent. And at that point, I’ll let Damo take over the conversation…

short notes here – you can expand as you wish. Don’t forget to mention that all the plates were presented with great imagination and flair, but not pretentiously (to me anyway)

AMUSES BOUCHES

cucumber, olive oil and herb gazpacho – grassy, intense, pure
cured mackerel with preserved lemon – tasty, but don’t remember much
chicken liver parfait ‘sandwich’ – delicious, rich, perfect texture

served with 2004 riesling from Alsace (Jean Luc Mader). Not as limey or one-dimensional as most aust rieslings; a dry, minerally and interesting wine with light honeyed finish


SEARED TUNA WITH HARISSA, AIR DRIED CHORIZO, SQUID INK AND SMOKED MUSSEL

tuna was beyond perfect – glassy texture with very long flavour. amazing.
the other bits were nice but I can still taste the tuna right now

served with 2004 chenin blanc from South Africa (Mulderbosch). typical fruitiness of chenin blanc, though with more complexity than WA versions of this wine make. Not as good as a Vouvray, but a nice drop. It let the tuna shine brilliantly


JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE CUSTARD WITH GARLIC, SOY AND BORLOTTI BEANS

another masterpiece – tiny dollops of garlic puree around the super-smooth custard and scattered beans. each piece had a real purity of flavour – no sense of oiliness, fattiness or anything else, just the essence of each ingredient. worked together marvellously

served with 2005 chardonnay from Burgundy (Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze). I had this wine on it’s own last week, and thought it a bit clunky. paired with this dish it was very good, the richness of the food knocking the rough edges off nicely


STEAMED BAR COD AND EMULSION WITH JAMON AND CHIVES

can’t remember too much about this – certainly wasn’t bad though!

served with 2006 rose from Provence (Chateau Rio Tord). the waiter commented that this was meant to be a palate cleanser, and it was. Not especially vibrant in any direction, but not insipid or bland either


VENISON SAUSAGE WITH HONEYCOMB TRIPE SALAD AND HORSERADISH

this was your favourite, i thought it was great too. again it was the lack of oiliness or fattiness, the intensity of flavour of each ingredient, that wowed me

paired with 2004 shiraz viognier from McLaren Vale (Salomon Estate). Never tried this before, but it had the chocolatey richness you expect from this region. once again the food match lifted the wine, I reckon

ROASTED DUCK BREAST WITH SAMPHIRE OYSTER MUSHROOM KOHL RABI

very tasty dish, though I thought the duck was a little too salty. especially when paired with the delicately salty samphire. small-diced oyster mushrooms were perfect accompaniment, rich and flavoursome. still not sure exactly what the kohl rabi was

served with 2005 Touriga Nacional and Franca from Portugal (Quinta do Vallado). Never tried any portuguese reds before but was very impressed with this: slightly tarry flavours reminiscent of a light zinfandel. Further details elude me, but I know I was a big fan. probably better than the dish, actually!

WHITE CHOCOLATE WITH APRICOT ICECREAM AND FIZZ

Desserts like this should be illegal. I am not normally a dessert lover, however this was the best course of the night. richly flavoured icecream without being heavy, superb white chocolate, all offset by that amazing “fizz”. dunno what it was (sherbet I presume), but it lifted an already wonderful dish into the stratosphere. wow.

Can’t remember what this was served with – too busy raving about the food. I think it was a botrytis something-or-other, wasn’t it?

So as you can see, we had a great night there also. The only disappointment of the last couple of days was my failure – due to time constraints – to attend the Bran podcast party. I really love listening to the podcast and wanted to thank the guys who do it by buying them a drink, but time just got away from me in preparing for the Olle Dinner last night.

It’s another beautiful day in Sydney, so I’ll head out in the sunshine this afternoon, but after the last few days I’m definitely looking forward to a night at home doing nothing.

  1. Dearest James – you take me right back to Jana’s Olle lecture in 1997 with the start spotting. I can barely believe it was 10 years ago this November – and it was the night I think I realised I was pregnant. Sigh. Well, if you need anyone to organise it again, you know where to find me :)

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