Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bridging the gap!

Every year the Old Bridge Hotel hosts a regionally themed wine festival weekend. And this year they were showcasing Australian and New Zealand wines with a fine wine matching dinner to start the weekend and a lively festival supper party to round it all off on Saturday. We had seven tickets for the supper and were duly seated in the main restaurant area by the appointed time. The bulk of the other diners were seated in a larger area but these places had been snapped up first. Though initially disappointed that we hadn't been quick enough it soon changed to delight because it was all a little insanely loud in the main area. We had a more refined meal in our be-feathered room and at least could share conversations. The way the supper party works is we have a set menu and our table is positively groaning with various part bottles of Antipodean wines that other quaffers have been enjoying at the earlier tasting events. There's plenty to choose from and sample and some of us are quite merry rather quickly - you know who you are!

Our set menu is:
Homemade breads with infused oils
Portland crab, red chilli and galangal, crème fraiche dressing
Grilled sea trout, asparagus, lemon miso dressing
Chargrilled poussin, salsa verde, tabouleh & watercress
Vanilla panacotta with grappa and champagne rhubarb
Coffee with ‘bounty bars’

We start with some soft bread and little dipping dishes of verdant basil and vibrant chilli oil which was swiftly followed by a very interesting tasty moist crab dish (and I'm not a galangal fan!). We were enjoying a particularly lovely Chardonnay, though I would normally go for the red - fortunately D very sensibly made some wine notes on the evening so I can jot down some of my favourites and update this. After the Chardonnay was swiftly dispatched I just stuck to the red Cabernet Sauvingnon that was placed closest to me, and it was very pleasant so I was happy to oblige.
The sea trout was beautifully delicate with the asparagus.
The poussin was nice and summery with plenty of lively salsa verde for us to enjoy the succulent meat with. And the peppery watercress was the prefect foil.
Our dessert was a light panacotta with rhubarb, I think the abundance of wines could have been truly effecting us by then so I can recall little of the panacotta. Though the plates of exceedingly dark chocolate enrobed coconut bars I do remember, maybe because even though I don't really like the taste of coconut. Coconut always transports me back to ridiculous teenage attempts to tan ourselves as quickly as possible with entirely SPF-free coconut oil. How fortunate that none of us incurred lasting damage from our skin frying escapades.
Our evening of Antipodean wines and food was very enjoyable. It wasn't a menu I would have necessarily selected by choice but it turned out much tastier than I'd anticipated. We'd missed last year's Italian wine festival due to prior commitments but are already looking forward to next year. I am hoping for French but am willing to be pleasantly surprised.

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