It’s a lunch I look forward to every year and this was to be the fifth time that GG and I had attended together. It is one of our favourite annual events and as fate would have it, this year it was held a month later than normal which aligned perfectly with GG and my first wedding anniversary weekend. Ladies and gentlemen we were heading back to Sittella! Sure it was the first weekend in August but clearly Winter hadn’t got the message because the weather was just perfection! Blue skies and sunshine and a very pleasant 24 degrees – talk about lovely lunching weather!
A decent crowd was already assembled when we arrived and happy folks milled on the lawn sipping the very choice 2008 Sittella Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay.
To accompany our drink, we enjoyed the first course of our lunch, Jerry Fraser shucked Coffin Bay Oysters on the lawn. Now I’m only recently embracing the wonder of this popular mollusk and conditions have to be pretty perfect for me to try one. So GG went in first. Served natural with a generous spritz of lemon he elegantly slurped it from its shell….. And I waited for his comments. Amazing he said – so fresh, get on board and so I did. I only had two (and the smallest two I could find) and they were really nice oysters.
From here we checked the table list and wandered inside. We were spoilt with a seat along the balcony overlooking the Sittella vines.
A beautiful setting on a beautiful day. We tucked into the freshly baked bread rolls along with some of the signature curls of butter that we had grown to love each year.
Before too long our first seated course arrived and it was Scallop minestrone with corn and flateolets. On reading the menu neither GG or I knew what a flageolet was, so a quick Google revealed it was a type of bean. It was a nice soup, flavoursome and with the added fancy of a plump scallop in the centre. While we did like it, we decided that it didn’t surge to the top of our favourite soup list. The top of the class there was actually a soup we had had on our first visit to Sittella way back when. It was a white bean soup and it was just magic. Maybe if I wish real hard they’ll re-feature it at next year’s lunch 🙂
Next up was a rabbit dish. Rabbit and fois gras terrine, tarragon emulsion, fennel salad, orange. GG asked my thoughts on terrine and I told him that I found them to be a little hit and miss. But one bite into this dish and I knew it was a massive hit, potentially even a home run! The flavours were so well balanced. The fois gras along with the rabbit in the terrine were a delicious creamy combination and it was so well matched with the sweet orange and the refreshing crunch from the fennel salad. It was a dish that I was unsure I would fancy on seeing it on the menu but it really knocked my socks off.
Fish came next and fancy fish at that. Barramundi, pancetta, broad beans and curried cauliflower puree. I didn’t mind it and thought the curried cauliflower purée added some interesting flavour but I wasn’t quite as wowed with this after the previous course. GG liked it though and I must admit I am a hard sell on seafood.
But onwards and upwards and next it was time to cleanse the palate ahead of the final savoury dish. Pretty as a picture was the elegant glass of Blood Orange and Campari Sorbet that we were presented with. The flavour was a pleasing balance of tart and a subtle sweetness that definitely ticked the box well for a palate cleanser.
My fellow is partial to a good steak so was well pleased with the arrival of a very impressive tower of beef. Stockyard Beef tenderloin, red wine braised onion, sweetbread and mushroom fricassee. It looked delicious with its indulgent topping of mushroom and sweetbreads and colourful arrangement of vegetables. It tasted nice but both GG and I would have liked the beef to have been a few shades pinker, but I can appreciate the challenge of cooking beef for so many folks and it was still tasty. And sweetbreads I don’t mind them now. More textural than having a strong flavour.
I’ve often debated with GG whether the order of proceedings should be cheese then dessert or dessert then cheese and I’m in the latter camp but GG got his way at Sittella and cheese was on the way. Buffalo mozzarella, mango and papaya. We were both so pleased to see buffalo mozzarella included in this course and I’ll admit I found it different to see it paired with mango and papaya. I totally loved what they did with it though! Elegant thin strips of fruit teamed with the divine delicious pieces of buffalo mozzarella (easily one of my favourite types of cheese). It was a light and somewhat refreshing cheese course and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
They always turn dessert into an art form at Sittella and 2013 was no exception. Chocolate creameaux with banana, yuzu and sesame. A dainty banana tart which came complete with a precious little meringue dove on top! Alongside this was a dramatic smear of chocolate, this indulgent chocolate mousse, creamy ice cream, a generous dollop of cream and finally some crunchy biscotti. Isn’t it stunning? A total vision. Bravo! And I can assure you that it tasted every bit as good as it looked. The richness of the mousse was well balanced with some of the cream and ice cream. The pastry in the tart was buttery and light with the added bonus of having been painted with chocolate which was a winning combination with the freshness of the banana slices. Then there was the zesty kick from the yuzu cubes. We were going to be leaving on a sugar high 🙂
Wow! What a lunch it had been! Along with each course we had also tried an impressive range of some of Sittella’s new vintages. From the crispness of the beef hello, the grassy goodness of the Semillion Sauvignon Blanc or the depth in their vintage Chardonnay and that was just the whites! There was a few John Kosovoch wines in the mix and both are brilliant at showcasing what the Swan Valley has to offer in the wine stakes.
Hats off to Simon and Maike Bernns, Chef Mike Price and the whole team on an absolutely wonderful day. It’s no wonder I look forward to it so much each year. I swear as soon as I walked out the front door I was already dreaming of 2014. Big thanks 🙂