Could there be a better combination for a warming winter meal than duck and a glass of pinot noir? I think not!
If you live in Sydney (or can get there) you are in for a treat during July. Seven different restaurants will be featuring a duck dish with a glass of Cloudy Bay 2009 Pinot Noir from the 1st to the 31st.
Last week I had the extreme pleasure of trying three of dishes… during one lunch session! Indulgent, I know. Don’t worry, I had a vegetarian dinner that night.
Apologies in advance as I forgot my camera so only crappy iphone pics populate this story. Sorry! I had to make sure hubby had all the stuff he needed to look after Poppy – which meant I didn’t remember my things. Really important things, like my camera. OK moving on.
The event started with a quick overview by Greg from Cloudy Bay on how to smell and taste for a good pinot noir. It was interesting to find out that the perfect pinot noir grape is the ‘holy grail’ for serious winemakers. It’s apparently very difficult to grow because the conditions have to be just so. Even grapes in the same vineyard can turn out differently (ie. badly!) if they are facing a slightly different angle to the sun. Who would have thought grapes could be so touchy?
The other fascinating thing was how the same wine tastes completely different depending on what it is served with and I’ll talk more about that as we go on.
The first dish, pictured above, was at Restaurant Balzac in Randwick. It is a fresh take on Duck ‘a l’orange. The succulent duck had been blanched, air dried, marinated and then roasted and served with fresh orange segments, witlof and watercress. The result was a strong citrus flavour but none of the gluggy sauce that is usually associated with the traditional French version.
The pinot noir tasted light and not smooth with this dish. The fresh fruit and salad elements brought out the cleaner aspects of the wine, there was none of that old complexity you usually taste with a pinot noir.
Sorry for this photo, it’s the worst of the bunch, and does absolutely nothing to show how fabulous this dish actually was. Apologies to the wonderful chefs who created it!
Next stop, pictured above, was The Devonshire in Surry Hills. They served up a cracker of a dish of Roast Breast and Sausage Roll of Duck, Salsify, Hazelnuts and Parsley. The sausage roll was particularly heavenly as it included the duck livers, giblets and legs. The hazelnut paste (that stripey smudge in the foreground) really complimented the sausage roll and was a lot more posh than tomato sauce, ha!
Interestingly, we learned that the higher fat content of this dish changed the taste of the wine. It tasted more tannic, richer and complex due to the way it mixed with the fat residue in the mouth. Now I know why it is so fascinating to match food and wine.
Next stop, Golden Century in Chinatown for a generous plateful of BBQ Peking Roast Duck. I was quite full by this point but still managed to scoff down most of the moreish duck and lovely side dish of lightly pickled radish and carrot.
The wine also had a stronger, richer taste with this dish due to having to stand up to the super sweet and aromatic flavours.
Here’s the full list of restaurants participating in the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Duck Trail during July. Bookings are essential, so don’t forget to call ahead.
I hope you have a chance to get out and try one of these yummy dishes. If you do, then please drop back and let me know what you thought!
Disclosure: Fig & Cherry attended the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Duck Trail event as a guest of Cloudy Bay and Red Urban. Many thanks to Angela for organising a great event!