Our Appellation Tasting Australia Barossa Lunch was one of the finest meals I’ve enjoyed in sometime. Yes, the food was fantastic, yet it was that something extra, that took it to another level that is less often experienced these days. Take for example the table water – filtered rain water. And when I told dining companion, and Appellation (and The Louise) owner, Jim Carreker that I preferred sparkling water, a glass of sparkling (rather than still) filtered rain water arrived promptly at my place setting.
We experienced our first taste of this same attention to detail, when we first arrived at The Louise. Seated in the private dining room with other media guests of Tasting Australia – including visiting British Chef Mark Hix (to my left) and New Zealand Chef Mark Bosley (opposite) – we stepped through the daily tasting process that Appellation Sommelier Cassaly Fitzgerald will work through with the kitchen team. There in Barossa Valley wine country, she is first to select the day’s offerings for the guests. Then, the Chefs will match seasonal and available food with her wine selection, by tasting individual ingredients to determine the match with the wine. Hix and Bosley discussed the matches. Not a match for their professional skills, I tasted in silence, and listened and learned.
Tasting Australia Barossa Lunch
Wednesday 2nd May
Wine and Food Tasting
Henschke verjus, Silesian anchovy, Udder Delights brie, Linke’s Lachschinken, Appellation garden coriander, Local black olives, swalt cured caper leaf
2011 Kalleske ‘Florentine’ Chenin Blanc
2011 Milhinch ‘Seize the Day’ Cabernet rose
2010 Two Hands ‘Bella’s Garden’ Barossa Shiraz
None of us at the table had previously tasted the ethereal bite of the cured caper leaf – sharp and salty and lightly holding the characteristic caper flavour – softer in texture than expected – a stunning mouthful and match with the rose. Working through the matching process, wine to ingredient, was a fascinating experience for me.
Earlier in the day, we’d been divided in groups: food and wine, with food further divided into kitchen teams. In the spirit of the Barossa, we’d headed off to use another restaurant’s kitchen, the kitchen at Peter Lehamann. I worked with Ryan Edwards. He balked slightly when I asked him his ‘title’. He answered (as printed on our lunch menu) Head Chef. Later, during lunch, the announcement was made that with Mark McNamara’s retirement in June, Edwards will be appointed the new Appellation Executive Chef.
It was a great pleasure cooking with you Ryan. Yum! Hands-on! All that meat! We pulled apart a pig’s head for terrine, and cured duck for two dishes – breast and confit. Even better than the hands-on lesson though, was learning about how every one of the Appellation kitchen team can do any task in the kitchen, and how you only buy from farmers and producers, not only that you know, but where you’ve also visited them at their premises. More of that Appellation attention to detail, which shows on the plate and beyond.
Pigs head terrine with pickles and mustard
Mixed leaves, fresh cheese, beetroot, bacon and walnuts
2011 Seppetsfield Eden Valley Riesling
Duck two ways, butternut puree, sunchokes and pomegranate
2010 Torbreck Juveniles GSM
Lime tart, red cooked quinces and jersey cream
2010 Peter Lehmann Botrytis Semillon
Each mouthful was heaven. It would be a hard call to pick a stand out dish. The pigs head terrine was amazing with depth and complexity of flavour. I understood more about this from the morning’s class; the attention to aromatics and even the choice of salt of the dry cure (for the duck) and brine (for the pig’s head) were just one example. The use of parsley (in the French way) in the terrine, completed the perfect landscape for (little old Francophile) me.
Did I mentioned we ate lunch from shared platters? Not an unexpected way to serve us, when you understand the philosophy of Carreker. Your visit to The Louise may just be for lunch, but if you stayed in one of the onsite luxury suites, you’d find not a lounge, but rather two single arm chairs, to encourage conversation.
And of course the attention to detail reaches beyond the building – restaurant and luxury accommodation. And into the grounds, with kitchen gardens providing some of the local Barossa produce that graces the table. My garden favourite was the stylish yet practical self-watering thyme that can be seen from the main dining room.
Appellation. Applause! I’ll be back.
Luxury Lodges of Australia
Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Seppeltsfield Road, Marananga, South Australia, Australia
+61 8 8562 2722