I was meant to have a dinner date on Saturday last, but I blew it — big time. To compensate for my stupidity (OK, by this stage I was in denial and almost at war with myself), I had a squiz at some recipes (Delicious magazine was the source of choice this time) and hit the market, hell bent on creating something memorable to get me over the line.

The yield included some big, fat Canadian scallops, fresh peas, mint, chillis, limes and pancetta. Late in the afternoon I made friends with the half bottle of cleanskin Yarra Valley chardonnay that was, hard to believe though it may be, left from the night before. It’s a cracker — great value at 11 bucks a throw from my local Vintage Cellars. The wine was great (and my only) company during my time in the kitchen — which was bugger all time, but the resultant food was as good as it gets (big call, I know, but it’s my call).

I had the eight big, fat scallops with minted pea and wasabi puree, scattered with crispy bits of pancetta, chilli and a drizzle of olive oil. The full recipe is at the bottom of my blog. I reckon I spent no more than 15 minutes at the stove. If you’re having a dinner party, I can’t imagine a better starter, one that’s certain to impress your guests. And as the only guest on the night, I know it impressed my socks off.

I was almost as equally impressed with an Ashcroft 2009 Chardonnay from Margaret River. It was 31 bucks at my local (although I noticed later that it was $26.99 at Nicks Wine Merchants) but no matter. I was treating myself. Denial does that apparently. What a cracker wine, a great match for the food. The vineyard grows all its own fruit and harvests by hand. It shows when you loosen the screwtop and let it loose in a glass.

It’s got good colour, and has plenty of peachy, citrus things happening on the nose. And yes, there was even some cashew stuff going on (that was the easy part because I’d eaten some cashews during the afternoon). In the mouth it was crisp, with a big, fruity flavour (it’s a robust 14.5% alcohol) that was well and truly worth the price of admission.

I may have been lousy company, but the company I kept on the night was right up there.

*Follow @mickthesub1 on Twitter and at his blog, Single Person’s Survival Guide

Peter Fray

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