Celebrating 60 years of great friendship and life

Chris' 60th birthday cake

Chris' 60th birthday cake

When we received a 60th birthday bash invitation from our friend Chris, Chopinand and I were pleasantly surprised. “Old ruin at old ruin” was the caption on the card, written with the signature wicked humour of his wife Peta.

The scene is set at Restaurant Atelier, Glebe, Sydney

The scene is set at Restaurant Atelier, Glebe, Sydney

Among Chris’ invited guests were friends of 40, 30, 20 and 10 years; school pals, old chums and soul mates who had seen him through both thick and thin. Amidst such cherished company, we feel privileged as we were really blow-ins, having known them for only 6 years and quite possibly the youngest couple among such distinguished people.

Green olives

Green olives

When we arrived, the usual table setting had transformed into an open cocktail style space and the restaurant was closed exclusively for the event.

In Peta’s efficiency, she had organized everything to a tee, from customised balloons to printed menus, fabulous food, vertical tastings of the best wines, right down to the perfect cake in the shape of a ‘grand cru’ for our wine connoisseur Chris.

Jamon Iberico, Fleur de Sel Grissini

Jamon Iberico, Fleur de Sel Grissini

As guests arrived, NV Grand Grosset flowed freely, followed by an endless parade of stunning canapés, every morsel packed with flavour and finesse.

 


Jamon twirled around grissini
was a great start, followed by an elegant scallop and carmelised onion tartlet and delicate goats curd cannoli.

But my favourites were the tofu, smoked then pan fried into crispy cubes, annointed with kim chi mayonnaise, the moist and melt-in-your-mouth crispy duck confit and the Thai-inspired consommé, heady with its herbaceous perfume.

In fact, most of us agreed that these canapes are truly some of the finest that we have ever tasted.

 

Adele with birthday boy Chris

Adele with birthday boy Chris

It was fitting that the birthday celebration was held at Chris and Peta’s favourite dining venue, Restaurant Atelier in Glebe, owned by Chef Darren Templeman and his wife Bernie.

Darren Templeman, Owner and chef, Restaurant Atelier

Darren Templeman, Owner and chef, Restaurant Atelier

Their relationship with Chris anf Peta had evolved from one of restaurateur-customer to great foodie friends – a true testament to the power of food in bringing people together.

Tiger lilies

Tiger lilies

Peta and I met through work but our common obsession with good food and wine soon brought us together, along with our equally food loving husbands. A great friendship was quickly forged through thousands of calories and too many wines!

Throughout this time, we have shared many wonderful dinners at each others’ homes, exchanged restaurant discoveries and recipe secrets and attended food and wine events together.

And we soon learn that many of their friends were incurable gourmands as well, wining and dining through bellies full of food and laughter.

Phil Marchionni, Dave Sim and Lewis Chandler

Phil Marchionni, Dave Sim and Lewis Chandler

Ros Wertheim and Dorothy Bond

Ros Wertheim and Dorothy Bond

Lisa and Lewis Chandler

Lisa and Lewis Chandler

Lisa Chandler and Lynette Pitt

Lisa Chandler and Lynette Pitt

Dorothy Bond, Adele Hemphill and Lynne Robson

Dorothy Bond, Adele Hemphill and Lynne Robson

Gosset Grande Reserve NV

Gosset Grande Reserve NV

2001, 2002 and 2003 Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot

2001, 2002 and 2003 Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot

2009 Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet

2009 Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrache

Woodside goat curd canoli

Woodside goat curd canoli

Crisp zucchini blossom with fresh ricotta

Crisp zucchini blossom with fresh ricotta

Caramelised onion and scallop tartlettes

Caramelised onion and scallop tartl

Crisp duck confit

Crisp duck confit

"Anyone for some crisp duck confit?"

"Anyone for some crisp duck confit?"

Rabbit ballotine baguette

Rabbit ballotine baguette

Grilled eggplant, piquillo and goats cheese roulade, quince paste and walnut log

Grilled eggplant, piquillo and goats cheese roulade, quince paste and walnut log

Quince paste and walnut log

Quince paste and walnut log

Crisp zucchini blossom with fresh ricotta

Crisp zucchini blossom with fresh ricotta

Gruyere gougre

Gruyere gougre

"Wait, let me down this so you can pour me another"

"Wait, let me down this so you can pour me another"

Just when we were filling up with these delicious canapés, Chris and Peta announced that there were mains, desserts and cheese plates to follow!

"While my boss is still pondering on my request for a pay rise, I think I'll just keep his wife amused"

"While my boss is still pondering on my request for a pay rise, I think I'll just keep his wife amused"

And we couldn’t resist as my favourite main is pork belly while Chopinand‘s is beef.

Chef Templeman is a master of pork and his technique is best displayed in the Coral Park pork belly, well rendered in a slow oven, with its crackling paper crisp and its richness countered by a refreshing Chinese cabbage and citrus salad.

It was perfect, washed it down with the 2009 Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet, selected by their wine distributor friend Gavin.

Daub of Cape Grim short-rib of beef with truffle mashed potato

Daub of Cape Grim short-rib of beef with truffle mashed potato

The daube of Cape Grim beef short rib was equally divine, so tender and unctuous, you can cut it with a fork and when paired with truffle mash, just pure luxury!

Daub of Cape Grim short-rib of beef with truffle mashed potato

Daub of Cape Grim short-rib of beef with truffle mashed potato

We had the beef with a vertical tasting of the 2001, 2002 and 2003 cabernet merlot from Kulkunbulla, a very well-regarded boutique winery in its day. We find this wine to be punctuated with subtle tannins. Each mouthful has plummy undertones with a smooth and lingering finish.

Crisp Coral Park pork belly, chinese cabbage salad with citrus sesame dressing

Crisp Coral Park pork belly, chinese cabbage salad with citrus sesame dressing

Following such rich mains, it was great that desserts had a lightness of touch.

I had the vanilla pannacotta with poached peaches and cherry sorbet but hidden in this was a surprise sprinkling of pop rocks, which sizzled in the mouth!

Vanilla pannacotta, poached peach and cherry sorbet

Vanilla pannacotta, poached peach and cherry sorbet

Chopinand, who’s not a dessert fan, finished the delicious chocolate delice with berries and sheepskin milk yoghurt ice cream.

Chocolate & olive oil delice, berries, sheep' milk yoghurt ice cream

Chocolate & olive oil delice, berries, sheep' milk yoghurt ice cream

But a meal isn’t complete in Chris and Peta’s dinner without cheese and there were some creamy Morbiere, Pont l’aveque and Strazlecki Blue, along with a smorgasbord of lavosh, crackers, walnut log and quince paste, paired with smooth Sauternes.

2005 Chateau Broustet Sauternes

2005 Chateau Broustet Sauternes

Chris Hughes, Paul Hemphill and David Murray

Chris Hughes, Paul Hemphill and David Murray

Jacquie Murray, Chris Mikul and Cath O'Brien

Jacquie Murray, Chris Mikul and Cath O'Brien

Peta Dixon, Rebekah O'Connell, Elise Burchsmith and Gerry O'Connell

Peta Dixon, Rebekah O'Connell, Elise Burchsmith and Gerry O'Connell

Jane McRae, Jacquie Murray, Lynne Robson and David Murray

Jane McRae, Jacquie Murray, Lynne Robson and David Murray

Peter Robson, Chris Hughes, Michael Burchsmith and Julian Gyngell

Peter Robson, Chris Hughes, Michael Burchsmith and Julian Gyngell

Rod Winning and Ros Wertheim

Rod Winning and Ros Wertheim

Bruce Pitt and Steve Tracy

Bruce Pitt and Steve Tracy - "Yes, two for the road, thanks!"

"Paul, just as well you're a vego, just stay where you are while we tuck into this pork belly!"

"Paul, just as well you're a vego, just stay where you are while we tuck into this pork belly!"

"Am I the only silly bugger bothered to catch this fly before it lands in my soup!"

"My penis becomes this long whenever I tuck into Darren's pork belly!!"

"I think she's enjoying me tickling her under the table"

"I think she's enjoying me tickling her under the table"

As the wine flowed, so did the conversations and speeches. Peta paid tribute to Chris, for sharing a life with an equally food loving partner, especially given his recent health scare.

Chris made a funny but touching speech, grateful he still has a good crop of hair, thanking his friends for keeping his wit in check and his wife for organizing his birthday party and his life in general.

"I should be gentle with such a beautiful cake my wife got me"

"I should be gentle with such a beautiful cake my wife got me"

"Arrgh, I think she screwed me with this one, it really is a wooden wine box, dammit!"

"Arrgh, I think she screwed me with this one, it really is a wooden wine box, dammit!"

"At 60, I can bloody well have my own cake and eat it too!"5

"At 60, I can bloody well have my own cake and eat it too!"

"Thanks Peta, you are truly the best!"

"Thanks Peta, you are truly the best!"

"I think I got him teary eyed now ... "

"I think I got him teary eyed now ... "

"Now now, you cry baby!"

"Now now, you cry baby!"

"Happy 60th birthday Chris, you old ruins!"

"Happy 60th birthday Chris, you old ruins!"

"At 60, I remember looking up into the sky to wish upon a star"

"At 60, I remember looking up into the sky to wish upon a star"

"But I can't quite remember what I wished for though"

"But I can't quite remember what I wished for though"

"Now I can't even remember if I'm wearing my wedding ring"

"Now I can't even remember if I'm wearing my wedding ring"

"But I can count with my fingers the number of hairs on my head"

"But I can count with my fingers the number of hairs on my head"

"At least my eye brows can give Johnny Howard a good run for his money"

"At least my eye brows can give Johnny Howard a good run for his money"

An afternoon of great indulgence

An afternoon of great indulgence

2003 Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot

2003 Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot

2001 Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot

2001 Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot

Rebekah O'Connell and Jenny Marchionni

Rebekah O'Connell and Jenny Marchionni

Elise Burchsmith, Michael Burchsmith and Peta Dixon

Elise Burchsmith, Michael Burchsmith and Peta Dixon

"Chris used to be a skinny bloke I can easily carry with both hands"

"Chris used to be a skinny bloke I can easily carry with both hands"

"So I used to push him around in school"

"So I used to push him around in school"

"Bugger you Chris, you're smiling coz you've still got all your hair?"

"Bugger you Chris, you're smiling coz you've still got all your hair?"

"I'll give you details for that salon Warnie goes to, puts a smile on my face..."

"I'll give you details for that salon Warnie goes to, puts a smile on my face..."

Friendship and passion for great food: Peta Dixon, Darren Templeman and Chris Hughes

Friendship and passion for great food: Peta Dixon, Darren Templeman and Chris Hughes

"I told you it wasn't a wooden wine box"

"I told you it wasn't a wooden wine box"

Chris' 60th birthday cake

Chris' 60th birthday cake

Chris' 60th birthday cake

Chris' 60th birthday cake

"Yes, I'm officially an old fart now, you happy?"

"Yes, I'm officially an old fart now, you happy?"

And you know you have bosom pals when you can’t finish a speech without regular interruptions and jibes from your friends.

Ex flatmates spoke of funny anecdotes during the young and restless days while old school mates exposed cheeky tricks and conspiracies.

"Oh boy, after so many glasses of red wine, even the walls are turning red!!"

"Oh boy, after so many glasses of red wine, even the walls are turning red!!"

It was truly touching to be part of this special occasion, celebrating 60 years of a life filled with good food, great wines and glorious friends and here’s to many more to come!

"Thank you all for being a part of such a memorable occasion"

"Thank you all for being a part of such a memorable occasion

For the record, the menu for Chris’ 60th birthday bash on Saturday, 21 January 2012:

Drinks List

  • NV        Gosset Grande Reserve
  • 2007    Dr. Burklin-Wolf Gaisbohl
  • 2009    Chateau Mont-Redon Blanc
  • 2009    Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet
  • 2009    Louis Latour Macon-Village Chameroy
  • 2007    Domaine des Baumard Trie Speciale Savennieres
  • 2009    Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis ler Cru Vaillon
  • 2001    Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot
  • 2002    Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot
  • 2003    Kulkunbulla Cabernet Merlot
  • 2005    Chateau Broustet Sauternes

Canapes

  • Gruyere gougre
  • Caramelised onion and scallop tartlette
  • Woodside goat curd canoli
  • Brandale croquettes aioli
  • Crisp smoked tofu and kimchi mayonnaise
  • Jamon Iberico, fleur de Sel Grissini
  • Crisp zucchini blossom with fresh ricotta
  • Grilled eggplant, piquillo and goats cheese roulade
  • Thai-influenced consomme with shiitake mushrooms
  • Alaskan snow crab mayonnaise tartlettes
  • Crisp duck confit
  • Rabbit ballotine baguette

Mains

  • Prawn and scallop Boudin Blanc, risotto Jardiniere, bisque sauce
  • Crisp Coral Park Pork Belly, Chinese cabbage salad with citrus sesame dressing
  • Daube of Cape Grim short-rib of beef with truffle mashed potato

Dessert

  • Vanilla pannacotta, poached peach and cherry sorbet
  • Chocolate and olive oil delice, berries, sheeps’ milk yoghurt ice cream
  • Cheese: Morbiere, Pont l’Eveque, Strezlecki Blue

So dear readers and friends, what did you think of Chris’ 60th birthday bash?

Now’s your chance to post your comments, nullify that age-old rumour about Chris or simply have a go at him!

Restaurant Atelier
22 Glebe Point Road, Glebe 2037
New South Wales, Australia
Tel: + 61 2 9566 2122

Business hours: Dinner – Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6pm

Restaurant Atelier on Urbanspoon

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22 Responses to Celebrating 60 years of great friendship and life

  1. Sissi says:

    Such a celebration of 60th birthday would probably make me forget I’m sixty ;-) The crispy duck confit will stay engraved in my memory until I try to copy it (and manage of course)! Wonderful post!

  2. Hi Mysaucepan! Great foods and great company of friends is the way to celebrate 60th birthday! I liked the birthday cake and the short rib….hmmm so delicious! Looks like everyone had a great time and I’m sure it was very memorable day for him. Happy B-day Chris! :-)

  3. What a wonderful event! And woodside curd, oh yummy! A wonderful occasion celebrated in real style. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Juliana says:

    What a beautiful event…enjoyed so much going through the pictures…everything looks unbelievable delicious…would love to try the beef ribs and the pannacotta…
    Thank you for sharing this event. Hope you are having a great week :)

  5. What a lovely celebration – one that your friend will never forget. The food looked incredible and his friends all look so nice. What a nice way to spend an evening. Too bad they couldn’t share some of those recipes though. The dishes looked amazing!

  6. What a lovely celebration indeed! That food looks incredible and so generous too,yumm…

  7. sugarpuffi says:

    love the cake. it looked like a very sweet birthday :)

  8. wow! great celebration!! Love it!

  9. Kimby says:

    Dear Mysaucepan,

    This post was a fitting tribute honoring your friend, Chris, too! Celebrations like this were meant to be shared and you did a wonderful job of it, capturing the “mood” and the food and friends and wine!

    Reading your humorous and/or descriptive captions, looking into the eyes of your beloved cohorts (and seeing such interesting lives in their faces), savoring your delectable food photos, and imagining all it took for Miss Peta and Chef Darren to pull off such a grand party, I was honored to be a part of it — it felt like I was “there,” if only vicariously.

    You’re right — food does have the power to draw people together — as do friendship and the wisdom to make the most it, on special days and every day. Congratulations to the birthday boy! :)

  10. Charles says:

    Wow, that sounds like a heck of a party – good times. That cake looks fabulous, but I gotta say – those canapés sound awesome.

  11. What an epic post and evening! I love Atelier and I always send people that love pork there and delicious food because he is expert at both. Plus he is a lovely guy too! :D

  12. Joanne says:

    What a fun party! Good food, good wine, good company…what more could you need?

  13. Sidney says:

    You all know how to party and eat!

  14. What a wonderful couple and celebration! I’m still salivating over both the pork belly and beef!

  15. heidi says:

    This the most marvelous post!
    Celebrating friendship, food and fine wines is one the very best ways we can spend our time! Thanks for sharing this tribute to your friend!

  16. msihua says:

    How beautiful that you could celebrate this special occasion with friends and food! Yayy to celebrations and a great journey in life :)

  17. “Old ruin at old ruin” – haha, I love that! And you’ve enjoyed *quite* the variety of wines and foods! :D

    I haven’t been blessed with the gift of real friendship until I was 24, so now I have a 5 year anniversary with two of my best friends. :) Friendship is a wonderful thing!

    Also, I’d love to know what’s written on the arm of the man who carries the wooden tray with the goat curd canoli. I don’t even know which language that is. Can you read it?

  18. Winston says:

    Oh wooow, what a SMASHING birthday milestone celebration from beginning to end! I’m sure your mate Chris had the best time with you all that night. I literally stared at that shot of the beef short rib with truffle mash for 10 whole seconds, oh gawd… Too good to be true! Love the zucchini flowers with ricotta too… Hopefully you’ll get Mysaucepan to throw you an epic birthday bash this year too haha!

  19. What a gorgeous celebration for birthday!!!!
    I am sure it must have been so good with great friends and delicious food…
    Perfect!!!

  20. Wine box cake wasn’t made by the restaurant, but this bespoke cake maker in Sydney, and can be seen online here: http://www.gaycakes.com.au/wine_box.html .

    Great to see it being enjoyed so much…!!!

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