For the first time since we've been going to the Rose & Crown wine-tasting dinners, they did an Australian theme. We spent some time pondering what this might mean in terms of matched food, and came up with prawns, lamb and pavlova served with Jacobs Creek and McGuigans. And we were wrong on all counts.
We started with a wonderful spicy pumpkin soup with warm damper (made by someone who has never had damper, I suspect - it was a bit weird) which went beautifully with the 2008 Billi Billi Pinot Grigio. The Pinot Grigio was a bit fruitier than you'd usually expect, so the big hit of spice and the thick, creamy, sweet pumpkin soup was a very good match.
The second course was a barramundi fillet served with crispy leeks and a vermouth sauce. I tend to think that barramundi is a bit over-rated, and I would have been happier with something caught a bit closer to Hertfordshire, but this was a pretty good effort. Nicely cooked white fish with a bit of green god-knows-what and a well-seasoned creamy sauce. They made a pretty brave (but good) call and served a red wine with the fish - a lovely light, dry, 2007 Notley Gorge Pinot Noir.
The main course was another pretty brave call - kangaroo fillet.
Kangaroo is a delicious, dark, lean meat, not that different to venison, but people come over all sentimental about how cute they are and don't want to eat Skippy. Well, Bambi and Thumper and Babe are pretty darn cute too. But they are also tasty. Kangaroo was also a pretty brave choice because it can turn to boot leather very easily. And we did notice a couple at a table near us struggling to get a knife through their portions. But the portions served to us were very nicely done - tender and just pink. The crispy leeks (which hadn't turned up with the barramundi), tart fruity sauce ("riberry" - whatever that is) and roesti made a very well-composed dish. And they stood up to the thuggish brutality of the 2002 Eden Valley Shiraz, from Peter Lehmann. I actually got the best part of 2 glasses of the shiraz - it was much bigger than Paul likes - and I thoroughly enjoyed the impenetrable darkness of the colour and the blackcurrant strepsil flavour. I'd never really experienced dark fruit and menthol so clearly in a glass of wine. I may, in fact, have been reminded of a youthful party involving a glass of ribena and an Alpine Light cigarette.
For dessert, we had something described as a lamington, which no Scout pack would recognise as such. A heavy chocolate cake, sandwiched with jam, covered in an obscenely rich bitter chocolate ganache, sprinkled with coconut and served with cream. It was very good - but not really what I want when I want a lamington. The Skillogalee Liquer Muscat that was served with it was wonderful though. Such a classic Australian wine! And almost rich and sweet enough to do battle with the chocolate ganache. Quite a feat.