The CEO CookOff 2014

February 19th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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Take 37 of Australia’s top chefs, 120 CEOs and members of the business upper tier, and add 900 attendees – members of Sydney’s disadvantaged and homeless community. Add them all to the fabulous Carriageworks in Eveleigh on Monday night and you have the 3rd annual CEO CookOff, a join initiative from OzHarvest and Qantas.

The CEO CookOff is an incredible event that aims to feed the homeless, while at the same time raising awareness of food wasteage and how simple it can be to turn excess food into nutritious meals for those in need. Additional focus this year was on indigenous communities and youth in crisis with funds going to Tribal Warrior and the Life Changing Experiences Foundation.

Our very own Neil Perry, OzHarvest ambassador was there of course, with trusty side kick Mike, cooking alongside legends Maggie Beer, Guillaume Brahimi, Peter Gilmore, Jared Ingersol, Nathan Sasi, Giovanni, Frank Camorra and many many more. Each chef cooked their signature burger this year with Neil going all out and even adding tomato and lettuce. Go chef!

Vittoria boss Les Schirato was the leading CEO fundraiser. Last check, the overall tally was sitting at over $1 million raised. What an incredible result!

It is always a great pleasure to take part in charity fundraisers of such incredible worth, to do whatever bit we can to help those in need. We take our hats off to Qantas for their support and to the incredible Ronni Khan for her vision and undying devotion to her work. OzHarvest continues its drive to turn excess food into nutritious meals for Australians in need with 21 vans on the road delivering food to over 500 charities across Australia.

Congratulations to all those involved and may we all continue striving to do whatever we can to help our fellow Australians.

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Tuesday Recipes

February 18th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

Use the salsa over anything and everything – roast leg of lamb or beef sirloin, whole roasted snapper, pork cutlets.  You can substitute the almonds with macadamias or hazelnuts, or add some basil for an extra flavour hit. 

To change the texture of the salsa, try adding some beautiful sweet cherry tomatoes. Just crush them lightly.

Barbecued lamb cutlets with tomato, almond and chilli salsa
Serves 4

 Simple summer entertaining: Barbecued lamb cutlets with salsa.

3 cloves garlic
sea salt
2 long red chillies, split and deseeded
80ml extra virgin olive oil
16 lamb cutlets
freshly ground black pepper
tomato, almond and chilli salsa (see recipe below)
lemon cheeks, to serve

Tomato, almond and chilli salsa

6 cloves garlic
2 tsp sea salt
4 long red chillies, split, deseeded and roughly chopped
100g almonds, roasted
4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely shredded
splash of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa, pound the garlic with half the sea salt in a large mortar and pestle, followed by the chilli. Add the almonds and pound until well crushed, then add the tomato and remaining salt and gently crush. Transfer to a bowl, add the parsley and red wine vinegar and stir through, drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and add a grind of fresh pepper.

For the cutlets, put the garlic and some sea salt in a mortar and pestle. Add the chilli and continue to pound, then stir through the extra virgin olive oil. Rub the cutlets with the marinade, cover and set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Preheat the barbecue to hot and make sure the grill bars are clean. Put the cutlets on the grill and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.

Place 4 lamb cutlets on each of four plates. Pour the juices from the resting plate over and season with freshly ground pepper. Spoon over salsa and serve immediately with a lemon cheek on the side.

Chilled cucumber and ginger soup
Serves 4

Chilled cucumber and ginger soup.

6 small Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and deseeded
sea salt
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup crème fraîche
2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped

Cut the cucumbers into small dice and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in a colander and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Rinse cucumbers well under cold water then place in a food processor and add the ginger. Process for about 1 minute or until the mixture forms a thick purée.

Push the purée through a fine sieve and chill.

Divide the cold purée between 4 bowls, season with salt and white pepper to taste, add a dollop of crème fraîche and sprinkle with chopped dill to serve.

HOT TIPS

• This soup is the simplest recipe ever. You can alter the flavour profile enormously by changing the herb – so try swapping dill for coriander, for example.
• Yoghurt can be substituted for the crème fraîche, if desired.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Pinot gris The 2013 La Bohème Act Three Pinot Gris & Friends ($22) from Victoria’s Yarra Valley offers three aromatic varietals to match the delicacy of the cucumber and ginger soup. Gewürztraminer brings florals and spice, pinot gris a generosity of fruit, while the citrus notes of the riesling provide a clean finish.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.

VALENTINES DAY

February 12th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

This year, Valentine’s Day is brought to you by Rockpool, and the colour red!

RED. Because red is romance, passion, roses and pinot noir, all of which we can offer, here or there, in some way or another, at Rockpool…

We can bring you enormously extravagant and completely swoon worthy bunches of ruby red roses, Italian sours, pannacotta with sweet, fresh red Summer berries, Spice girls with dusty beautiful faces in shades of scorching hot, the world’s greatest red wines and chilli. And if you truly want to impress your Valentine this year, then why not give the greatest gift of all….food! We give you, as our Valentine’s gift to you, Neil’s recipe for Strawberry and yoghurt cake.

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STRAWBERRY AND YOGHURT CAKE
Serves 12-16

200g polenta (cornmeal)
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
275g caster (superfine) sugar
110g unsalted butter, melted
600g plain yoghurt
200ml warm water
600g strawberries, hulled and chopped
Icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3).

Line and grease a 22cm cake tin. Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, 300g of the yoghurt and the water and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir through half of the strawberries and pour into the tin.

Bake for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Place on a cooling rack and stand for 15 minutes before removing from the tin.

Once completely cool, top the cake with the remaining yoghurt and strawberries. To serve, dust with icing sugar.

NOTE: I like to use a square tin for this one, to mix it up. Plus it makes it easy to portion and this is a cake that lasts well for a couple of days – hold off adding the yoghurt and strawberries until just before serving.

Tuesday Recipes

February 11th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

Use any leftover sauce vierge on breakfast sausages with wilted spinach and sourdough toast – heaven!

If you want to go the extra mile with the potato purée, push it through a sieve. You won’t be disappointed.

Any type of pasta will work for the squid dish – I also love using risoni. Baby octopus is a treat in place of the squid. Serve the squid with crusty bread for mopping and a simple green salad.

Barbecued chicken breast wtih sauce vierge and potato puree
Serves 4

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4 x 180g boneless chicken breasts, skin on
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
For sauce vierge
3 vine-ripened tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 tbsp chopped chervil
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
8 coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For potato purée
Serves 4

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600g bintje potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-3cm dice
5 garlic cloves, peeled
sea salt
150ml milk, warmed
150g unsalted butter, finely diced
freshly ground pepper
1/2 lemon

For the sauce vierge, remove stalks from tomatoes and plunge them into boiling water for several seconds. Refresh in iced water and peel off skin with a knife. Cut into quarters, deseed and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, and cut into 2cm dice. Mix diced tomato with all other ingredients in a bowl, then set aside for 1-2 hours.

For potato purée, put potato in a bamboo steamer, add garlic and steam for about 1 hour, or until the potato is cooked. When done, pass the potato and garlic through a food mill, then place in a saucepan over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute until potato begins to steam. Add a little salt and, while stirring continuously, pour in milk. Add butter a bit at a time and stir until purée is smooth. Add pepper, check salt and squeeze lemon into the purée and stir. Set aside while you cook the chicken.

Preheat barbecue. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Cook on grill for 8 minutes skin side down, then turn and cook for 4 minutes. Remove and rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Put chicken on plates, spoon over sauce, place a dollop of purée on the side and serve.

Braised squid with spaghetti
Serves 4

Spaghetti

125ml extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm thick slices
1 medium leek, white part only, cut into 1cm thick slices
1 medium brown onion, cut into 1cm dice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt
450g cleaned squid tubes, cut into 1cm strips
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups red wine
1 tsp salted baby capers, well rinsed and drained
400g spaghetti
freshly ground pepper
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil in a heavy- based saucepan and add the carrot, leek, onion, garlic, chilli flakes and a little sea salt, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the squid and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar and wine and simmer slowly, uncovered, for 1 hour. Add the capers, fold through and check the seasoning.

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.

Spoon the pasta into bowls. Spoon the braised squid over the top, season with pepper and sprinkle with parsley.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Pinot noir The vibrant acidity, red cherry fruit and well-balanced oak of Seresin’s 2009 Leah Pinot Noir ($40), which hails from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, will ensure the barbecue flavour is carried on.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins

Friday Recipes

February 7th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

 Instead of clams, pippies would also work beautifully, and the salmon can be swapped for ocean trout or snapper. Crusty bread would be a welcome addition to the fish recipe, to mop up all those delicious juices.

Serve the salmon with a simple salad, such as finely shaved cabbage with raw fennel, lemon juice and a grassy olive oil.

You can make this cake with strawberries, or use a colourful mix of available berries. This cake will keep refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to three days.

Pan-Fried Salmon with Clam Sauce
Serves 4

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4 x 180g salmon fillets
sea salt
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds, roasted
1/2 tsp smoky sweet paprika
1/2 tsp mild chilli flakes
extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 rashers smoky bacon or pancetta, diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup freshly shelled peas
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups of clams, rinsed
60g unsalted butter
freshly ground pepper
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Season the fish with sea salt. Put the garlic, ginger, 1/2 tsp sea salt and fennel seeds in a mortar and pound with a pestle to form a rough paste. Add paprika and chilli flakes and pound a little more.

Heat a splash of extra virgin olive oil in a deep frying pan and when hot, add the fish fillets skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes, turn the fish over gently and cook for 4 minutes longer. Remove fish and rest on a warm plate.

Add the onion and bacon and a little more salt to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the spice paste and cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the peas, stock and clams and bring to the boil. Return the fish, cover and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and the clams have opened. Discard any that don’t open. Mix butter in until just melted.

Give a good grind of salt and pepper and stir through the parsley. Divide the fish among four bowls, spoon over the juices and clam, and serve immediately.

Raspberry and Mascarpone Cake
Serves 12

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2 punnets raspberries, washed and dried
icing sugar, for dusting
fresh raspberries, to serve
coconut meringues
35g ground almonds
150g dessicated coconut
7 egg whites
80g caster sugar
175g icing sugar, sifted
For mascarpone filling
500g good-quality mascarpone
70g caster sugar
2 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Mark two 25cm circles on baking paper and place on two baking trays (or one tray if big enough).

To make the meringues combine the ground almonds with the coconut in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 tbsp at a time, whisking until firm peaks form. Using a metal spoon, gently fold the icing sugar into the egg white mixture until just combined, then fold in the coconut mixture, again in batches, until just combined.

Divide the mixture between the circles on the trays, spreading it out to a thickness of 1 cm. Bake the meringues for about 30 minutes, or until golden, and allow to cool on the trays.

To make the filling, whisk the mascarpone, two-thirds of the sugar and egg yolks until thick. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form then gradually add remaining sugar and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold half the egg white mixture into the mascarpone mixture to lighten it then gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture.

Place a meringue disc in the base of a 25cm spring-form cake tin, top with half the mascarpone filling, then cover with the raspberries. Top with the remaining mascarpone and finish with the final meringue disc, placed crispy side up. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the tin and remove cake. Dust with icing sugar and add extra raspberries.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Chardonnay Classic and unmistakable, the 2009 Tyrrell’s Vat 47 ($55) from NSW’s Hunter Valley brings a luscious and generous palate of soft stone fruit and lively acidity to the salmon.

Photography: William Meppem. Stying: Hannah Meppem. Food preparation: Kirsten Jenkins

INDULGE IN LA DOLCE VITA

February 6th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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Rosetta Ristorante and Crown Spa Melbourne present their ‘La Dolce Vita’ package – surely the purrrrrfect gift for Valentine’s Day?

Lunch at our beloved Rosetta is combined with a luxurious La Prairie treatment at Crown Spa for $225 per person. Couples heaven! Dine on the terrace overlooking the Yarra River ~ 2 courses, Prosecco, coffee and cannoli, then take in a one hour cellular hydrating facial – or possibly the other way around! Crown also throws in the valet parking.

The package is available Tuesday – Thursday from 11 February – 26 June 2014.

To book, call +61 3 9292 6182 or email crownspa@crowntowers.com.au

 

 

SUMMER OF RIESLING

February 5th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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So what exactly is the Summer of Riesling?

Well. It’s all about Riesling, obviously, or as organisers Jason Hoy and Stuart Knox claim…”An opportunity to create a better life for yourself and the ones you care about through discerning Riesling consumption”.

In all sincerity, The ‘Summer of Riesling’ celebrates a unique grape that ranges dramatically in style and taste; from bone dry to very sweet, from exuberant and bracing in youth to sublime and complex in maturity.

This wonderful programme was first created in 2008 by one of New York’s most significant wine personalities: Paul Grieco. For the first two years it was held exclusively at Mr. Grieco’s renowned wine bar Terroir, but soon spread to numerous U.S. cities.

We are very excited to welcome this event for the third time to Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney. Our sommeliers would be delighted to talk you through these fine examples and their intrinsic characteristics. Pop in and enjoy while Summer lasts.

We are happy to be offering 6 Riesling by the glass along with 155 available by the bottle!

2012 La Violetta ‘Das Sakrileg’ Porongurup, WA
This up and coming Australian producer captures Great Southern Riesling at its best; pristine, intense and elegantly structured with subtle citrus blossom on the nose.

2012 Peter Lauer ‘Ayler Kupp Fass 6 – Senior’ Mosel, Germany
An incredible expression of Riesling from one of the best sites in the Saar. purity and mineral drive, with a textural off dry element, provides harmony for the citrus and soft stone fruit flavours.

2010 Johann Donabaum ‘Bergterrassen’ Federspiel, Wachau, Austria
From one of the most beautiful regions in Austria comes this stunning example of graceful and mouth-watering Riesling with freshness and floral-citrus tones.

2012 Hermann J. Wiemer ‘Dry’ Finger Lakes, New York
A pretty, pure and pristine Riesling from the East Coast in the US; mineral underpinnings and luscious sweet confit lemon rind, with pink lady apples on the palate.

2004 Domaine Marcel Deiss ‘Grasberg’ Alsace, France
Alsace at its best, this classic, unmistakably French Riesling displays the epitome of the aging potential of this variety, balanced and luscious with golden apples and honeysuckle.

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2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm ‘Wehlener Sonnenuhr’ Auslese, Mosel, Germany
It doesn’t get much better than this; a wine so pure and balanced with tantalizing sweetness yet fresh and vibrant with tones of green apples, jasmine and honey blossom.

The Summer of Riesling, on now at Rockpool Bar & Grill
66 Hunter St, Sydney

Neil’s February column for the Qantas Australian Way Inflight magazine

February 4th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

CHINESE WHISPERS

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Once, received wisdom had it that Sydney’s culinary strength was Asian food while Melbourne was the winner in the Greek and Italian stakes. That’s changed. Melbourne now rivals the harbour city for superb Chinese (and Sydneysiders are no strangers to award-winning Mediterranean restaurants).

It helps that Melbourne is home to my favourite Australian restaurant – Flower Drum. Much-garlanded and ever-popular, it delivers on food, service and all-round hospitality. But it’s not the only game in town. Here’s my round-up of Melbourne’s finest Chinese eateries.

Flower Drum (17 Market Lane, Melbourne, 03 9662 3655, flower-drum.com) is one of the world’s best Cantonese restaurants. In the heart of Chinatown, it has large, inviting rooms, a long and varied wine list, and exemplary service. Jason Lui leads a team that has been with the restaurant for many years, looking after guests effortlessly. The real draw is the food. Drunken and fried pigeon is a must, as are the Peking duck, crab dumplings and shallot cakes. Pearl meat, stir-fried with asparagus and served with shrimp paste, is magnificent, but my favourite dish is mud crab with noodles, ginger and shallots. This is Australia’s benchmark Chinese restaurant.

For decor and vibe, No.1 Delicious (83 Franklin Street, Melbourne, 03 9077 5188) is worlds away from Flower Drum. An unassuming cliché with bright lights and plastic tables, it’s always full of Chinese customers – a good sign. They know how to cook a decent dumpling here – in fact, this is where Spice Temple’s dumpling chef Xiurong Che (Betty) worked before she came to us. Try the pan-fried pork and pickled cabbage dumplings with Sichuan black pepper, the spring onion pancakes, or a whole red braised pork knuckle – it emerges dripping in gelatinous sauce – with plastic gloves to pick it up. Maybe not a first-date dish, but very tasty, nonetheless.

Lau’s Family Kitchen (4 Acland Street, St Kilda, 03 8598 9880) serves well-executed classics without the fanfare. The food is consistently good, the vibe is comfortable and unpretentious. The squid with salt and pepper is always light and fresh, with the perfect amount of spice, and the homemade steamed sui mai (pork dumplings) are simple, soft and comforting. Other standouts include the ma po bean curd with minced pork, creamy soft tofu and Lau’s homemade spicy ma po sauce – an absolute knockout. For something out of the ordinary, try the omelette of sea urchin and crab meat with salt and pepper garnish on the side. Texturally, this dish is perfection, with a simplicity that allows the urchin to be the star.

Bustling Dainty Sichuan (176 Toorak Road, South Yarra, 03 9078 1686) is so popular it usually fills up by 6.30pm, but the line moves quickly. Spice features heavily on the menu and there’s a chilli ranking system for the capsaicin-conscious. Cold dishes such as the (spicy) hot and numbing chicken and broad beans with sesame oil are a great start. The Sichuan hotpot is fantastic, although the broth is diabolically hot. Cumin lamb ribs are a crowd favourite, as is the crisp, sticky, fish-flavoured eggplant. Dainty is a lot of fun, especially on a Friday night with friends – the more the better, as you can share a wider range of dishes. And if the heat gets to you, order a Tsingtao and watch the red faces of your fellow diners. You’re not alone!

MONDAY RECIPES

February 3rd, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

Add boiled pumpkin or sweet potato to the curry at the end to take it to the next level. If you prefer, chicken can be used instead of duck. A crisp, cold Singaporean beer such as Tiger is a perfect complement for this curry.

We’ve used hokkien noodles, but any type is suitable – try udon, soba or egg. Spaghettini is a great option, too.

Replace the king prawns with any seafood or meat you like, such as shredded chicken or duck

SIMPLE DUCK CURRY
Serves 4

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6 duck legs, halved
1/2 cup coconut cream
3 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup of water
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
5 red shallots, finely sliced and deep-fried until golden
coriander leaves, to serve
curry paste
10 long red chillies, deseeded and chopped
10 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, chopped
3 red shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped

For the curry paste, pound the chillies, lemongrass, shallots and garlic in a mortar with a pestle until you have a fine paste. Alternatively, you can use a blender to process the ingredients, adding a little water if necessary.

In a bowl, mix the duck leg pieces with the coconut cream and salt. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot and stir-fry the paste for 10 minutes or until fragrant.

Add the duck and stir-fry for a further 5 minutes, or until the coconut cream “splits”.

Stir in the coconut milk and water and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour or until the curry has thickened slightly and a layer of oil has risen to the surface.

Season the curry with lemon juice and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with fried shallots and coriander leaves, and serve with steamed rice.

KING PRAWN AND SESAME-DRESSED NOODLES
Serves 4

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2 tbsp finely sliced pickled mustard greens
1 tbsp Chinese sesame paste
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp yellow bean soy sauce
1 tbsp peanuts, roasted and crushed
300g fresh hokkien noodles
600g cooked king prawns, peeled and chopped into 1/2 cm chunks
1 small handful of coriander leaves, chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, deseeded and cut into julienne strips
1/2 long red chilli, deseeded and cut into julienne strips

For the dressing, mix together mix together the mustard greens, sesame paste, sesame oil, sea salt, spring onion, soy sauce, peanuts and 2-3 tbsp water in a bowl.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until just tender, then drain and add to the bowl with the dressing.

Sprinkle in the chopped prawns, add the coriander leaves and mix well before piling it all into a serving bowl.

Top with cucumber and chilli to serve.

SOMETHING TO DRINK 
Pinot noir One of the best pinots of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Yabby Lake’s 2011 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55) offers lively red fruits with soft tannins and comes with a vibrant acidity and savoury back drop – a perfect partner to the duck curry.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins

HAVE NEIL PERRY COOK FOR YOU AT HOME

January 30th, 2014. Posted by stephanie young

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Fancy the idea of Neil Perry cooking dinner for you? In your own home, no less, with 9 of your closest friends who will doubtless love you forever after this one!

All you have to do is dine at any Rockpool Group restaurant between February 1st and June 30th and tell us what your favourite Neil Perry or Rockpool Group dish is. Simple, right? How you could possibly choose between goat cheese tortellini, date tart, tea smoked duck and son in law eggs is beyond me – so good luck with that!

The winner will be drawn on Friday 4 July 2014, and dinner must take place between July 2014 and November 2014, date pending Neil’s availability.

There’s a few terms and conditions of course, but nothing too crazy, so take a look here. We wish you the very best of luck – time to get reminiscing.

Bon appétit!