It’s a Springy night on the balcony at Stokehouse and the sea is lapping on the shore as our Foster e Rocco Rosé laps in our glasses!
It’s the inaugural Stokehouse Winemakers dinner and ‘Friendly Fire’ is the adopted name for the banter and fun that ensues between Garagiste, Jamsheed, Syrahmi and Foster e Rocco!
Stokehouse upstairs is filled to the brim with gorgeous people, amazing food and plenty of wine glasses waiting to be filled with the finest drops from Mornington, Yarra Valley and Heathcote, Cameron Smith is our MC and he whips everyone into shape and in place at the tables so that the first dish and wines can be poured and adored.
Kingfish tartare with kohl rabi and horseradish goes beautifully with the chilled Foster e Rocco 2011 Rosé, barely out of the barrel, this vibrant young Sangiovese Rosé is the perfect match for the kingfish and the start of the evening.
Now the wine is pouring as we head into the ‘flight’ with 2008 and 2010 Garagiste Chardonnays and the Jamsheed Westgate Riesling 2010 are poured to drink with the seared atlantic scallops, jerusalem artichoke veloute, sweetcorn, pangrattato and guanciale – WOW
Firstly, I learn that Guanciale is an unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from guancia, Italian for cheek – as Adam Foster grabs my cheek to demonstrate!!
Secondly the 2008 Garagiste Chardonnay is a pleasure! A standout on the tastebuds for me!
The evening continues with Friendly Fire banter, the winemakers chat through how they ended up here today and we get a few insights into how they tick and just how well they know each other!
Next up is quail leg, foie gras cigar, sherry glazed supreme, brioche buckwheat and prunes, it is a phenomenal dish packed with flavour and texture and goes beautifully with our first reds – Jamsheed ‘Mon Petite Francine’ 2011 Cabernet Franc, Foster e Rocco 2011 Nuovo Sangiovese, Garagiste 2010 Pinot Noir 2010. I adored the Cab Franc, I adored the quail, it’s a first time for the foie gras and its probably tainted from the associated negativity – I decide I could take it or leave it!! The Nuovo Sangiovese is already the Nouvo favourite in our house but we do have a soft spot for all Mr Foster’s wines!
Okay – this is serious business now, 100 people well into the swing of the night, the next wines are poured and there is the promise of medium rare O’Connor (VIC) 180gm pasture fed Angus beef tenderloin with a herb gruyere and peppercorn crust – I am still amazed at anyone being able to cook such a beautiful piece of meat for two people nevermind for a room of 100 people! It was quite possibly the BEST beef I have ever had, you barely needed a knife to cut through, it was so tender, packed with flavour and cooked to perfection – I am the luckiest girl around!
And then I try the beef with the 2009 Syrahmi ‘Climat’ Shiraz, some things are just meant to go together, peaches and cream, sausage and mustard and big Shiraz with beautiful beef!
The room is filled with more happy banter and the pressure is on for which region will be crowned the favourite of the night, a finale of cheeses, date puree walnut bread are best friends with the ’08 Syrahmi ‘Maelstrom’ Shiraz and the Jamsheed ’08 ‘Garden Gully’ Shiraz. The voting begins, St Kilda is filled with the cheers of 100 happy wine voters and the lovely Mr Foster is King of Heathcote, the best wine region as demonstrated through our wines tonight!
It was a sensational evening, the food was out of this world, the wines were equally impressive, the staff were amazing, the winemakers whitty and lovable!
A special mention to the other half (arguably the better behaved half!!) of Foster e Rocco and wonderful sommelier at Stokehouse, Lincoln Riley and his team, they did a brilliant job of making sure all 1,400 tastes of wines were poured through the night, and in the right order for everyone, thanks to everyone at Stokehouse for such a memorable evening.