Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Erin's 40th at Esposito@toofeys - part 1

Fortieth birthdays are big occasions. This is obvious. People get dressed up, go and get their hair done (for an ungodly amount of money), buy a new pair of shoes or two and generally get caught up in the event. And why not! This birthday marks quite a mile stone in peoples live, similar to the 18th and the 21st birthdays. Yet the 40th is a birthday that is full of reflection, as opposed to starting a journey with a UDL can.

Six weeks ago, 24 of our friends and immediate family gathered at Esposito@Toofeys in Carlton and celebrated my true love’s 40th birthday. But this was no ordinary get together for lunch. With the help of Maurice Esposito in the kitchen and his front of house manager Michelle, 26 diners were treated to an 8 course degustation with matching wine (Maurice was kind enough to let me bring in our own wine) that was quite simply perfect.

About six weeks out from the day, I asked Erin what she wanted to so for her birthday. There was plenty of thought. There was little too-and-frowing. There were not too many options; party at our place – Nope, drinks at a pub/bar – nope, dinner at a restaurant? If we were going to do this, then it would have to be done properly. How about a dego I asked. OK Erin said. Done, now I just have to find a venue.

Toofeys was the second place I contacted with the first venue categorically stating they did not need our business, even though they averaged about 8 covers for Sunday lunch – obviously they did not need the $3,500 that was spent.

Next thing was to meet with Maurice and Michelle and work out a menu. With 20 odd people, there are always going to be some dietary requirements; vegetarians, pregnant women, gluten free and just plain ‘I don’t like that’ so all of this was laid out. Twenty minutes later we had the skeleton of the menu and of the wines also. Simple. And here it is with the matching wines -

Erin Taplin May 29th, 1969 with
Esposito at Toofeys May 31st, 2009

Tathra oyster; red wine vinegar, ginger, soy and sesame
Valdespino Manzanilla Delicioza, Jerez Spain

Chicken consommé with goats’ cheese tortellini, seared Greenlip abalone
Henrique’s & Henrique’s Bual 15 year old Madeira and
Bindi Sparkling Blanc de Blanc 1994, Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Mud Crab with green apple, avocado and spinach essence
Chateau Jolys Gros Manseng Sec 2006, Jurançon France

Wild Barramundi with braised fennel, salad of surf clams, baby mint
Tapanappa Chardonnay ‘Tiers’ 2007, Adelaide Hills SA

Porterhouse roasted, potato puree, exotic mushrooms and 50 year old balsamic
Yannick Amirault ‘Le Grand Clos’ Bourgueil Cabernet Franc 2006, Loire Valley France

Cheese: Bruny Island white mould cows’ cheese and
Healey’s Pyengana Cheddar

Callebaut white and milk chocolate semi freddo with chocolate sorbet
Mount Horrocks ‘Cordon Cut’ Riesling 2008, Clare Valley SA

As I commented before, Maurice kindly let us bring our own wine, something that saved us a pretty penny let me say. Matching wine and food is what I do, and I was very pleased that Maurice let me have some say in how the menu was constructed in order to get the most out of the wines. A lot of chefs will simply flat out refuse this, for what would a sommelier know about designing menu’s. Yeah, what would we know, we just bullshit our way through a service to sell booze!

Now the invitations. Invitations I learnt, are a serious matter. You just don’t send an email or a text and say, ‘hey, want to join us for lunch’. This is where the male and female brain is different – I would have probably done that. If I did my name would be mud.

Our good friend Fiona Sproles (http://fwoglegs.blogspot.com/) in absolutely no time came up with a fantastic invitation – just brilliant. Erin had requested everyone hold May 31, they obliged, and all we had to do was wait.

.... to be continued


  1. Fi from www.fwoglegs.blogspot.comJuly 7, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    ...and it was such a fabulous and unforgettable event for our beautiful Erin.

    Who knew there were so many facets to partnering food with wine... oh, and we were well impressed with your pronounciation of multi-syllabic nouns and verbs from regions we'd never heard of before... it was an education and a devilishly delish degustation.

    Oh, and big ta for the plug on the invites, I'll send a bottle of Bindi Composition your direction!

  2. What happens next? What happens next??

  3. Congratulations to you both, a realy great effort by Tim for Erin. Sorry that we were not there but it was fabulous night by all accounts.