Monday, December 17, 2012

Murrumbateman Christmas

I've realised that our tradition of Christmas feasting at the vineyard started on the 1st of January 2000. I took this pic all those years ago in late afternoon light - as Jennie was pointing out their (then) 13 hectares of plantings, under contract to BRL Hardy in those days.

Sophie was a little babe in arms then and everyone's hair was darker and more prolific (in the case of the men anyway).

There was a beautiful sunset that evening, and I was lucky to get this shot of Maddie and Thomas with that spectacular backdrop of the sun setting over the dam.

and here they are now, Sophie, Maddie and Thomas, a week or so short of 13 years later, and our tradition of Christmas feasting at Murrumbateman is a highlight of the year for all of us (including Maggie the Jack Russell).

Even though they're so grown up now the kids will still take turns and play for us so we can sing Christmas Carols (with gusto but no polish). Thomas took the mickey out of us this year by choosing Fum Fum Fum (a traditional Catalan Christmas Carol) for us to sing, knowing we'd never heard of it. It gave him a few laughs to hear how we murdered it (and loudly too!).

As always Jennie and Wayne are wonderful hosts. There's a lot to celebrate this year with all the years of hard work, vision and huge expenditure starting to pay off . The grapes (especially Shiraz and Riesling) from their vineyard are the grapes of choice for the Canberra region's greatest wine makers who are really making their mark across Australia now.

For a couple of years now we have all contributed to the makings of the feast. This year we were each given an ingredient and free rein to come up with a course or two. Because we can all seem to predict what each other is likely to do we've never duplicated things or created too much imbalance in the various courses. This year was no exception.

It was quite a pared down ingredients list this year, just spice (me) lime (Judy L), cream (Maxie) and garlic (Jennie). Anke contributed the Majella and her famous strawberries dipped in Bruno's chocolate.

With our sparkling Majella we enjoyed my chilli nuts, Jennie's pork belly and garlic in brioche and Judy's Thai chicken cakes. We sat down for Judy's zesty lime oysters (with the 2010 Petaluma Riesling) and then Jennie's tasting spoon of lobster with garlic crumbs (with the 2006 Chateau Tahbilk Marsanne). Her garlic chives refresher (served in a shot glass) with chicken consomme jelly, cucumber and tomato was a great palate cleanser after all these starters.

My Moroccan spicy meatballs (recipe from Supper at The Victoria Room) and couscous and mograbiah with oven-dried tomatoes (from Ottolenghi) was next, served with Rob's 2002 Leaconfield Cabernet Sauvignon.  Jennie's roast beef and garlic potato bake rounded out the "Mains", served with a very old and interesting 1995 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon.

Shane the grafter joined us once more this year at our feast. He was able to explain all the changes happening as practical support and expert advice, previously made available for the agricultural sector across NSW, is wound back as a result of state government cutbacks.....all very sad, and very short sighted!

He'd brought beautiful cheeses from Wagga Wagga for our feast's cheese board: an unctuous Fromage Affinoise and the slightly grainy Midnight Moon Cypress Grove Chevre - beautiful.

Maxie had spoilt us by making two desserts: a Nigella Lawson chocolate pav (and yes it really did have the right level of squidginess as promised) with raspberries and strawberry coulis.  But whipping the cream base for the raspberries took a strong arm.

It's hard to believe but we also did justice to Maxie's gorgeous lemon tart (thank you Delia) beautifully complemented by a 2009 Margan Botrytis Semillon. We even managed to do justice to Anke's succulent chocolate strawberries

It was another memorable night with good friends and wonderful food and wines. Thank you Jennie and Wayne for the last 13 years! 

No comments: