Where to start? At the beginning I guess.
Standing around sipping a Green Hill riesling in the foyer of Victoria Station isn't the hardest thing I've ever done, although sadly I did miss out on the gently fried whitebait canapes being passed around for want of an extra hand. Henschke and Henschke are two very mellow fellows over from South Australia to host the night and know an awful lot more about wine than I do. But that's okay, they're meant to and I'm not. Stephen and spunky son Johann come from a long line of vintners and have done an indecent amount of travelling in the name of the good drop. They even have their own family crest.
See? He's a bit scrummy.
Anyway, to food and wine. Actually, coming from the school of the House Wine I'll happily admit I don't know much about wine so will refrain from adding any sage comments about them. For appetisers we enjoyed a nice Julius Riesling served with a tender sliver of smoked salmon languishing coyly between two miniscule slices of toast, served with strawberry, some clever toffee work and a sharp lime puree to balance.
Entree consisted of Rottnest Island sea scallops with an apricot balsamic vinaigrette and apple-potato rosti balancing precariously on top. Also on the plate was the tenderest of milk-fed veal loin with a light parmesan and shallot crust scuffing the surface. And (yes we're still on entree, stay with me people) a nest of homemade fettucine ribbons all served with a parsnip puree. It sounds much, much bigger than it was. Sadly, no photo for you as I was too hungry. The wines (yes, we had two per course, very few of which I got through) were a Cranes and a Croft Chardonnay.
To main. Main was a five inch thick slab of medium-rare Black Angus beef fillet which I believe has spoiled me for life as beef fillets go. It came with an oxtail, beet and oyster mushroom broth with an way-too-hard-and-crunchy elderberry sage rice cake atop. The reds were an Abbott's Prayer merlot and and a lovely full Johann's Garden shiraz.
Are we there yet? No we're not, so quit yer whining. Next was sorbet, which was an odd concoction of crunchy ice and cucumber that didn't really do it for me or several others at the table. Then the grand dame of the evening arrived - the Hill of Grace shiraz. She was borne from vines over 140 years old and had a surprisingly spicy aroma. Someone at the table told me it cost $380 a bottle and I was so impressed I drank the whole glass. Another taster arrived in the form of a teeny-tiny piece of toast with shavings of truffle on it that had me musing dreamily at how much truffle I might get to scoff at the Mundaring truffle festival later in the year.
Finally, dessert. Apple and fig strudel with a marscapone parfait (which tasted the same as ice-cream) and more strawberries, served with a clear muscat of Tappa Pass that I could have easily bought a couple of bottles of if they were selling them.
After each course, Stephen addressed the room detailing the love and care that went into the making of each wine. It was disappointing to see several bored faces dotted around the place: surely this is what we were here for? No matter. Most people looked suitably engrossed.
The impressive menu was painstakingly created by as-of-today executive sous chef Jochen Beranek and his team, who all looked understandably knackered as they were trotted out for some applause at the end of the night. Should I gush? Nah. Was it a memorable experience? Yes. Yes it was.