A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a remarkable program that is run each year in the Riverland district. The program provides guidance and mentoring for local chef, cooking and wait-staff apprentices, an opportunity for local working chefs to hone their skills and pick up current techniques from some of the best and most noted chefs in South Australia and also culminates in a dinner where the local wines and food products can be shown off at their absolute best. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’m here to tell you that this is yet another truly exceptional food and wine production region that is only a couple of hours from Adelaide and this week, totally ignoring comments from my nearest and dearest about my dodgy sense of direction, I hit the road and headed for what was to turn out to be an amazing meal in Renmark.
Having successfully made my way to the very smart Renmark Golf and Country Club, I adjusted my blood-tea levels and was soon whisked off to the Renmark Club on the banks of the gloriously full and flowing Murray River which was the venue for the dinner. And what a venue! We spent the first half hour or so soaking up local bubbly, canapes and chatter in the afternoon sun with that old river slipping quietly past in the background. I could have stayed there all evening, but there was some serious food to be enjoyed and I’m dead keen for you to get an idea of what is happening food-wise in the Riverland, so check this meal out!
First course – simply stunning Citrus Cured Salmon with Cucumber, Horseradish and the local Kolophon Capers, including the caper leaves which were delightfully tasty!
All of the courses were accompanied by some of the wines produced by the more than 4o local, smaller wineries in the Riverland region, including this gorgeous hand-picked Fiano and the multi-award winning Salena Estate 2010 Bianco D’Alessano which came with the first course.
While the second course was duck, I was assured that the ducks used were locally farmed and not whisked off the river when they weren’t looking – no tough old wild ducks could have been as delicious as this Smoked Duck Breast with Walnuts, Lemon & Endive.
If I had to pick a favourite I’d vote for the third course of Pressed Lamb leg, Parsnip, Black Cabbage & Onion – sublime –
and which matched very nicely to the velvety, young, but promising Burk & Salter 2009 Shiraz. I have no doubt that the Bishop’s Lane 2004 Shiraz and the Tom’s Drop 2007 Mourvedre Shiraz were every bit as good, but there is only so much one greedy girl can knock back in an evening and still keep herself nice.
A true celebration of place, the dessert of Compressed Orange, Pistachio, Yoghurt & Orange Blossom was fresh, intense and perfectly accompanied by a Berri Estates Muscat. Yum.
This was followed by a divine selection of petit fours which I managed to find just enough space for – fortunately, I’m nothing if not determined.
I simply had to share with you a shot of the table centre-piece, too. Using the produce the region is most noted for and with the inspired notion of putting some of it into Vacola (preserving) jars these centre-pieces served the dual purpose of providing eye-catching decoration and something to nibble upon in the case of sudden (although utterly unlikely) hunger.
Lambs’ Ears and Honey was the lucky and grateful guest of –