Christmas Party

I was invited over to the perfect Christmas Party last night.  Amazing hospitality by hosts M and S.  Thank you so much for a wonderful and delicious night! 

友人のM&Sさんのお宅にクリスマスパーティに招かれました。

I brought over one dish to start, vacuum poached wagyu slices rolled with white radish and carrots, ponzu sauce.  S created Vietnamese duck and red grape bites seasoned with soy, ginger, galangal, peanuts, (and much much more).  This was a very full flavoured appetizer with soy, sweet, spicy wrapped with a refreshing salad leaf.    I think it was a good combination with my beef dish which was a lighter style. 

自分の持っていった一品は豪州産和牛の野菜巻きポン酢味。今凝っている真空調理法でやわらかく仕上げました。Sさんのアミューズはベトナム風鴨の野菜包み。こちらもしょうがの風味が利いており美味しかった。

Then they arranged a wine tasting session with a professional wine consultant, Andrew Corrigan.  The theme was exploring the reds of the Barrossa (and Coonawarra).  In an attempt to stay sober and to learn as much as I can, I even tipped out the beautiful wines sadly,,, without too much success though… 

We started off with Cabernet Sauvignons from the Coonawarra.  (I might sound like an expert but words “borrowed” from the pro by the way).  Cab Sauv is characteristic with black currant nose, usually the best value reds you get for the dollar.  We compared within the Coonawarra which represents a relatively cooler climate thus a more delicate aroma rather than the more inland regions tending to have earthier and more hearty taste with higher alcohol content.  We worked our way up the Cab Sauv from refreshing to more lingering, persistent flavourful wines.  They were all good but the Katnook Odyssey was just such a gorgeous wine..

Next up was the Barossa Shiraz.  Characteristic with more complex aromas, from blueberrish to peppery, and chocolaty depending on oak influence.  Again, we worked up from a lighter style to a much more intense flavour, acidity, tannin, aroma, all are intense, also the apparent sweetness also due to higher alcohol content.  It is more common to hit a bad shiraz than a cab sauv. 

My taste has not matured enough to fully appreciate the big Shiraz’s yet.  I thought the lighter style Schist Rock was pretty good.  I enjoyed and appreciated the huge gust of flavour the Teusner offered but I thought I would not voluntarily purchase a bottle for the price it is. 

To sum it up, a good way to measure the quality of wine of any style, light or full bodied, is  to measure the persistence of the flavours.  This is a good way to measure the intenseness of any flavour or aroma.  The more there is, the longer it will last.  Another interesting take away was that Andrew mentioned Australian wines are generally very high quality which I completely agree.  You rarely hit a dud when comparing with European wines in which you do hit a lot of bad watery bottles.  Aussie wines tend to be mild and full flavoured even when young so are generally not suited for cellaring long years.  There needs to be a lot of sharp acidity and tannin characteristics that are actually sometimes even not pleasant when young in order for wine to age and change into mature long cellared wine.   Andrew was kind enough to discuss what wines might match my ramen so I shall consider his tips when selecting my wine list, Thanks Andrew! 

さて今回の目玉はプロによるワインテイスティング。CoonawarraのCabernet SauvignonとBarrossaのShirazの二項目をそれぞれ三種ずつ。本当に豪州の赤は特にはずれがほとんどありません。値段の違いは味の持続性に比例します。これはどの種類でも同じ事がいえるようで、口に含んで飲み込み、味が消えるまでの時間を計ってみます。いいワインほど持続します。=味が濃厚であるということが言えるということです。個人的には高いShirazは香りも味も濃すぎる気がし、嫌いとは決して言いませんがそれほど積極的に好きというわけではないのでCabernetのほうを良く飲みます。今回飲んだShirazの一番安いSchist RockはPinotのような飲みやすさがあり結構好きでした。あとはやはりKatnookのOddysseyは美味しかった!

Then the food!  I managed to get some shots of the beautiful ham that I thoroughly enjoyed but the wine soon came over me and thereafter, I just enjoyed… I feel so bad about not even properly complimenting the craftful chef that created everything to perfection (let alone take photos…)

食事はSさんの手作りの伝統的オーストラリアのクリスマスディナー。やはりこういう家族や友人が集まるホームパーティーの主役はオーブン料理。そしてクリスマスではハムを焼くことが定番です。ハムも保存食なので日本のお節に通ずるものがあるのでしょうか。ちなみにSさんはとてもセンスのいい人で家のインテリア、洋服、子供の教育、料理などすべてに凝っていて色々参考になるお人。豪州の伝統的なクリスマスディナーといっても一工夫も二工夫も違います。グレービーソースなんかもミックスを遣わず丁寧にバターで仕上げているし、ロースとポテトの美味しさにビックリした。たずねると鴨の脂をかけてローストしているとのこと。表面がかりっと仕上がっていて濃厚な鴨の香りと味がしっかりついていて絶品だった。ハムもFree Rangeの豚。クローブやパイナップル、チェリーの洋酒漬けなどをたっぷりしみこませて焼き上げていた。ちょっとスパイシーなチャツネとあわせると非常に合う。さらに赤ワインが進んでしまいました。

Iron Chef S finishing off the wonderful gravy…

The menu was an Aussie traditional dinner including little present filled snapping thinggies and the traditional outfits.  Geez this is such a weird custom!  Having good mature adults all sitting around the table with colorful paper crowns! 

M carving the ham for us..

Sorry for there being not more photos but we had, roast ham (S mentioned she got it from the Meating Place so I think it must have been a free range pork ham, dressed with aromas of cloves, pineapples and cherries), roast chicken, stuffing, gravy, roast potatoes (with a coat of duck fat, this was crusty on the outside, oozing with toasted duck flavours, so yummy!!), pumpkin, sweet potato, spicy chutney, steamed green beans, and to top it off with raspberry pudding and chocolate truffles, noughats, mince pies, tea or coffee. 

I am always amazed at how S perfectly plans everything.  I admire her for her passion and good sense in anything from education, interior design, fashion, and cooking!  This is a shot I should have taken prior to dinner rather than after of the table centre decorated with cute little Christmas ornaments. I am so hopeless at pictures… 

Thank you so much M and S, it was such a wonderful evening!

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