It’s a glorious day in the Central Coast.
But what makes this weekend special is the company of good friends.
Do you need an excuse for a nice weekend away from your usual routine?
I don’t need one but it seems that some friends have found a reason to celebrate milestone birthdays for The Monk and I.
It’s supposedly a colour for the ‘new age’ guy but Magenta is also a coastal suburb in the Central Coast of New South Wales.
Just over an hour’s drive from Sydney, Hotel Pullman Magenta Shores Resort is a sprawling web of holiday villas set within a clubhouse, restaurant, tennis courts, swimming pool, indoor lap pool, sauna, 18-hole golf course and of course, a 5-minute stroll to the white sands of Tuggerah beach.
Thelonious and Doctor Kidney are definitely not new age so it appears paradoxical they have invested in a modern holiday villa in the middle of nowhere with all the modern conveniences to pamper their friends from time to time.
“Make sure you bring some good drops” the Monk says to us all. After all, a milestone birthday does not happen all that often.
Magenta Shores, Central Coast New South Wales
Mysaucepan and I have been here on numerous occasions previously and the comforts and convenience of a modern holiday villa is a big bonus.
Whisky and Champagne for the weekend
The Monk is celebrating his milestone birthday and brings a few heavyweight from Tasmania and Japan.
Tasmanian distillery Sullivan’s Cove was named the world’s best single malt whisky at the World Whiskies Award held in London recently.
Theolonius and Clarevoyages have given me a bottle of Johnny Walker XR Aged 21 years for my milestone birthday.
It’s going to be an indulgent weekend.
So instead of munching on potato chips and all sorts of unhealthy snacks, I have prepared roasted kale chips as snack for our whiskies. If it is supposed to be a super food to cleanse the liver of toxins, then we need to eat a tonne of kale this weekend.
Pluck the kale leaves and discard the stems. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle salt on the leaves and toss in a large colander until the leaves are coated with oil.
Spread the kale leaves on a baking tray and slow-bake in the oven at 130 degrees Celsius (265 Fahrenheit) until it is crisp. Watch the leaves as they can burn easily if left unattended.
A 2005 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville courtesy of Clarevoyages was my favourite among for reds after the first evening.
A blend of 77% Zindandel, 17% Carignane and 6% Petite Sirah, I found a palate that is complex with dark berries, black pepper with very soft tannins and a good finish.
Pan-seared lamb cutlets
What would life be without lamb cutlets and a glass of cabernet sauvignon?
It was a unanimous decision among everyone to have these beautiful cutlets for lunch and I have volunteered to do the cooking.
Unless roasting a whole lamb rack, I prefer these cutlets with that beautiful layer of fat compared to French-trimmed cutlets. The thick layer of fat might give your cardiologist heart palpitations but there’s a tasty method of rendering fat.
Season cutlets with fresh rosemary, thyme, freshly cracked black pepper and a few generous pinches of sea salt and let it marinate for about twenty minutes.
Cevapi sausages (or chevap) come without the skin and it’s best for the BBQ when seasoned with salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
While the frying pan is being heated, assemble cutlets to stand on its flat edges.
Alternating the cutlets in ’69 position’ enables them to lean on each other so they don’t collapse.
When the pan is very hot, swirl in just two teaspoons of EVOO to coat the entire pan. When oil begins to smoke, gently place the cutlets onto the pan, edge side down.
The meat should immediately sizzle and the fat begins to render and caramelize.
Once the edges are golden brown and caramelized, most of the fat will be rendered into the pan which is why very little olive oil is required when pan-searing these cutlets.
Flip each cutlet over when each side is browned. Be cautious to not overcook as these cutlets are most tender and succulent when seared to medium rare. It’s always better to err on the rare rather than overcooked side. Ensuring the pan is very hot will reduce the chance of these cutlets ‘stewing’ especially when searing many at one time.
Corn on cob & cherry tomato and butter lettuce salad
To me, there’s no better way to eat steamed corn on the cob than melting some butter and sprinkle salt on it.
These cobs have been steamed for fifteen minutes. Still nice and hot, they are screaming out for a knob of butter.
I quarter about twenty cherry tomato into wedges and cut a Spanish onion and three cucumbers into thin slices to mix with a couple of roughly torn butter lettuce.
This salad is simple and one of my favourites during summer BBQs.
My salad dressing is to simply whisk the following:
- Half cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon seeded mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and black pepper to taste
A couple of hungry wolves are eyeing an apple tart and vanilla ice-cream for dessert while nursing their reds.
A walk along Tuggerah beach on a beautiful day
Tuggerah beach is a five-minute walk from where we are.
There is also a leisurely fifty-minute return walk to Wyrrabalong National Park nearby.
It turns out to be a perfect day ~ clear blue skies with a crisp wind though the sun is warm against our backs.
From the top of the sand dunes, we can see as far as the township at North Entrance.
Unlike Sydney beaches, this one is deserted save for a few die-hard surfers trying to catch a few waves.
Getting a bit of sand between our toes is a wonderful way to walk off those lamb cutlets we had for lunch earlier.
Wines for the weekend
Starting with the whites, we have a few cracker rieslings ~ Leeuwin Estate from Western Australia’s Margaret river as well as a Petaluma and Pewsey Vale from the Clare and Eden valley in the Barossa which is home to some of the finest of this varietal in Australia.
The line up for chardonnay is no less impressive and it includes an aged 2001 Bannockburn SRH that promises to be among the best in this stable.
1998 was one of the great vintages in the Coonawarra region for cabernet sauvignon and a Wynns Coonawarra Estate from this vintage entices among a 1996 Lake’s Folly Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hunter and a 1997 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Margaret river.
The Penfolds Grange and Henschke’s Hill of Grace are arguably two of Australia’s greatest shiraz and this weekend, we have brought a 1987 and a 1996 respectively.
Dinner at Barretts Restaurant, Hotel Pullman Magenta Shores Resort
The Barretts Restaurant at the Pullman Hotel clubhouse has a modern Australian menu and the chefs have their work cut out on this busy Saturday evening.
The dining room is spaciously spread over an elevated position that overlooks the golf course and the 18th green.
The Monk brings his 2001 Bannockburn SRH Chardonnay to dinner and it does not disappoint.
After 13 years in the bottle, the colour of this wine is a vibrant gold. There is complex stonefruit aromas with a velvety palate and long oaky finish. This bottle is truly one of the great interpretations of the varietal.
Garlic bread made from a baguette is crisp and warm with a generous lashing of butter and some herbs.
A dozen fresh oysters are sitting pretty on a bed of rock salt with a few lemon wedges.
Unfortunately, these oysters are lacklustre and far from their best.
Scallops are beautifully seared to golden brown and still succulent with a sweet corn and butter sauce.
Mysaucepan‘s slab of duck breast can be a lot more tender though she would disagree with me as I am comparing it with Chinese roast duck, one of my absolute favourites, apart from Peking duck.
Rocket and pear salad is a safer bet among the entrees we have had.
It is difficult to go wrong with crunchy walnuts, slivers of Spanish onions, olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan.
Theolonius reports that his seared chicken breast in a hearty vegetable broth and glazed young leek accompanied by creamed potato hits the mark.
A 1996 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz is dark crimson and musky on the nose. The soft tannins with ripened plums add good complexity with a lingering finish.
The Monk and I both had the grilled sirloin with dollops of artichoke puree, glazed shallots and game chips.
This steak took a while to arrive and while nicely charred with a blushing pink in the centre, it’s a rather tough piece of meat on the jaws.
Mysaucepan‘s Tasmanian ocean trout is crisp on the skin and beautifully paired with slivers of samphire, fennel juice, steamed chat potatoes and bursts of tangy lemon gel.
After dinner, we strolled back to our villa and it was time to crack open a few big guns.
Personally, I am not a fan of single malt whiskies and prefer the smoothness from a blended one. The Sullivan’s Cove might be voted best single malt but I am definitely in favour of the Johnny Walker XR.
A few nips later and the entire house is cheering on their favourite team on TV.
The next morning turns out to be yet another cracker of a day.
Clear blue skies greet us as we head down the wooden path towards Tuggerah beach from our villa.
It’s a relatively private stretch of public beach and as we head south, the small community at North Entrance comes into view.
The sand is soft under my feet while the wind is cool against my face.
Breakfast after a morning walk
Since I am an early riser, everyone is happy for me to prepare breakfast today.
And the easiest way to cook for a crowd is to let the kitchen appliances do most of the cooking, especially after a late night with a few more drinks than normal.
Scrambled eggs, bacon and toast is one of my favourite breakfasts during a weekend away.
How do you like your bacon? Crispy or a little chewy?
After brekky, it was time to head back home to Sydney. Thanks everyone for making this weekend a memorable one.
So dear readers, which do you prefer, the North Coast or the South Coast of New South Wales?
1 Magenta Drive, Magenta
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 4352 8137
Breakfast Monday to Sunday 7am – 10.30am Lunch Saturday and Sunday from 12pm, Dinner Monday to Sunday from 6pm