Valentines Day is not a date on the calendar I would say is particularly special to GG and I. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll take any excuse for a dinner out but there are other dates that are more special to us as a couple. Like April 23. Our first kiss in the car park at the gym. Now I’m not sure if I’ve ever got around to mentioning it but that’s how GG got his nickname. GG is short for Gym Guy. That’s what I called him before I found out his name 🙂 So that’s my story about that. Another date now dear to us is August 4th. Our wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful day and part of the reason that Sandalford Winery in the Swan Valley will always hold a special place in my heart. Well it further cemented its place there after many other previous happy visits enjoying their delicious food and wines. So despite a relatively nonchalant approach to Valentines Day, when I happened across the menu on offer at Sandalford for February 14th I was sold. It looked amazing and with Valentines on a Friday a dinner visit to the valley sounded like a plan.
It was a beautiful night when we arrived. Still some Summer warmth in the air and happy couples milled about the lawn enjoying tasty canapés and glasses of Mumm. I’m a big fan of French fizz but was slightly surprised that Sandalford didn’t choose to showcase their own sparkling, which is a delightful drop. Musicians played some jazzy tunes and it was a lovely interlude before we were shown to our table. We were actually seated outside under the vines, it was all kinds of lovey dovey picture perfect on such a delightful evening.
I had pretty much committed the menu to memory and knew that oysters were up first. Half Shell Oysters, Finger Limes. I wouldn’t say I’m a confident oyster eater. Any attempts are still fairly tentative and conditions have to be fairly perfect for me to sing their praises. I took the smaller of the pair and used my fork to carefully loosen the oyster before I elegantly flip topped my head to eat it. As it was, I put my fork in my mouth after fiddling with the shell and was overwhelmed by the strong flavour. I knew I couldn’t eat it so I gave mine to GG. He ate it and he noted he would have preferred if they were served a lot colder. So he didn’t eat the second.
We turned our attention to the Estate Baked Sour Dough, fresh and still warm served with the ever indulgent Beurre Lescure. Good bread and good butter – good times 🙂
A shared plate came next with a pair of each of the four components:
Serrano and Rockmelon
Seared Scallops, Wakame, Sticky Honey
Truffled Pork Terrine
Lovingly prepared, each was a unique flavour combination. From the long time favourite that is rockmelon and serrano ham, with its sweet and salty contrast, to the flavour explosion of the gazpacho, which really showcased the potential magic of the humble tomato. The scallop was plump and well paired with the refreshing wakame and the sweet honey. And while I find terrines can be a little hit and miss, I thoroughly enjoyed the porky goodness of this one. An interesting arrangement of tasty morsels and the appetite was well and truly kick started into action and excited for the courses ahead.
I had only been singing the praises of haloumi earlier in the week so was well pleased to see it featuring in the next dish.
Grilled Lime Tiger Prawns, Watermelon, Haloumi, Basil
Plump prawns on grilled pink watermelon and panfried haloumi along with a bright basil pesto. It was a really creative combination of flavours that all married up well. The sweetness from the watermelon, the squeaky magic of haloumi and well cooked tiger prawns. Just delicious!
Angus Beef Fillet, Truffled Mash, Asparagus, Béarnaise
The final savoury was Angus Beef and I have to say I had expected this dish to be about half the size and I would have been ok with that (though GG would be unlikely to share that sentiment). We were essentially presented with a mains sized piece of beef fillet, an impressive tower of meat on indulgent truffled mash with asparagus. It was an incredibly generous dish but after the preceding courses I was unconvinced I would be able to finish it. So the challenge was to put a respectable dent in what was wonderfully creamy mash, asparagus with plenty of crunch and beef that had been cooked to pink melt in your mouth perfection. It really was lovely.
Now the order of the next two courses is something that has long been debated by GG and I. I’m of the camp that thinks dessert then cheese whereas he considers the reverse as his preference. Well he got his way at Sandalford and up next was the cheese course.
La Buche d’Affinois, Lavosh, Strawberry and Muscatel Salsa
A decadent wedge of La Buche d’Affinois. Just. So. Creamy! We indulgently smushed generous amounts on the accompanying crackers, going for a very high cheese to cracker ratio. So good.
Now I think I could have happily bowed out at this point but it would have been a crime not to eat the beautiful dessert that arrived. I mean look at it!
Turkish Delish Cheesecake
Chocolate Marquis, Raspberry and Pistachio
Coconut Panna Cotta, Pineapple Salsa
Three carefully created components were lined up on the plate, refreshing coconut panna cotta with the wafer thin pineapple sliver, the deconstructed Turkish Delight cheesecake with its intense rosewater flavouring and finally the rock your socks off richness of the chocolate marquis. Just so delicious. Rich, sugar rush kind of delicious.
Oh what a night it had been. With my red rose in tow I was a happy lady when we headed home. As always the food at Sandalford had been delicious and the service was the perfect balance of knowledgeable, friendly and entirely attentive. Our Valentines Day had been made. Cheers to Sandalford for making such an amazing evening possible. Great food, lovely wines and just a wonderful Valentines. At this rate it could well become a permanent fixture on our calendar 🙂