A wine dinner in Alice Springs – 1981

Alice Springs is situated right in the heart of Australia but when I lived in the Alice thirty years ago it was hardly the centre of Australian haute cuisine. Gerry White, head of hospitality at the local college, was determined to change that. He asked me to run wine courses for the students and at the same time he created a ‘Wine and Dine Group’ for local residents.

An inaugural dinner (modestly priced) took place in the college restaurant on 11 November 1981. Gerry and I concocted the tightly budgeted menu and wine list below. Student chefs and waiters were in charge of the kitchen and service. Note the French influence in the menu items. Note also that the terms “sherry, white burgundy, claret, port” are now no longer legal on Australian wine labels.

Wine list: Hardys Delfino Sherry – Delicate Flor Sherry; Pedro and Palomino Grapes from Tintara Vineyards, McLaren Vale S.A. Tollana Rhine Riesling 1979 – Grapes from Eden Valley S.A. One of the best whites made in ’79. Houghton White Burgundy 1980 – West Australia, Chenin Blanc and Tokay Grapes. Hardys Nottage Hill Claret 1978 – Shiraz Grapes from Tintara Vineyards, McLaren Vale. Pol Laurent Blanc de Blancs – Sparkling wine – Chardonnay grapes from France. Made in the Methode Champenoise. Seppelt’s Mt Rufus Port – Shiraz Mataro and Grenache grapes from the Barossa Valley. Tawny port of about eleven years average age.

Menu: Canapés (A selection of delicate appetizers). Melon en Perles Frappe (lced melon marinated in port). Cailles Bonne-Maman (Pot roasted quail served in a nest of Julienne of vegetables). Filet de Boeuf Richelieu (Roasted eye fillet garnished with mushrooms, braised lettuce, savoury filled tomatoes, pommes noisettes and Madeira sauce). Tarte Fraises Parisienne (Whipped cream and cream cheese on puff pastry, topped with fresh strawberries). Cafe et Petit Fours.

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