Doltone House Jones Bay Wharf is a heritage site that’s recently been restored and it’s right on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour. As a waterfront location it’s highly sought after for weddings, functions and corporate events.
But on Tuesday night it was the venue for a political dinner to raise money for my brother-in-law’s bid to win a seat at the federal election that’s coming up in just a few days.
I had a very rushed day on Tuesday with not a minute to scratch and as time ticked by I was becoming more and more anxious as the realisation that I had nothing to wear started to scream at me. How is it that I don’t own a dress that fits in with a ‘lounge suit’ dress code! At about 5pm I was on my way home from Alfie’s swimming lessons and I passed a boutique and in desperation, dragged myself and Alfie through the door. I bought a dress in record speed. You’ve never seen a more delighted salesperson.
We crashed through the door at about 5.20pm giving me just 20 minutes to bring in the washing, throw on my new dress, apply some make-up, wet my hair and blow-dry it. There’s nothing like a challenge. Then Carl phoned and said he had a late meeting he couldn’t shift so my father picked me up in a taxi and Carl said he would meet us there as soon as he could. Sadly, my mother is still in hospital and wasn’t able to attend the event she had been very much looking forward to.
With Godspeed we were just about the first to arrive and I had a wander around the room that I thought had been beautifully decorated. I love black table cloths; I thought they made the room look very elegant especially with the warm glow from the candelabras above each table.
As I went on my solitary tour around the room, my brother-in-law arrived with the guest of honour, The Hon Bob Hawke, Former Prime Minister of Australia. I never thought I’d ever be in the same room as him but there you go – another day, another development. My BIL introduced me to him and I had a moment of panic wondering how to address him but I don’t think I embarrassed myself with my, ‘Hello Mr Hawke’. He had an eight-year reign as Prime Minister from 1983 to 1991. I believe he is now in his 80’s and although stooped and tired looking, he still has the charisma that made him very popular with the people, his oratory skills and a full head of hair.
After a brief chat and of course a photo opportunity (sorry I can’t show you the photo – I’ve had a bit of trouble getting a copy of it from the professional photographer – I’ll get back to you!) I went outside and walked along the wharf that is part of Doltone House and admired the view, appreciated the fact I wasn’t cold in my sleeveless dress and sipped on a sparkling wine – no, it wasn’t champagne! I do like venues that don’t enclose you inside a box.
After a welcome drink we sat down at the tables and finally Carl turned up to join me. It was an alternate serve menu. Carl had asparagus, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, manzanilla olives and serrano ham as his entree and of course, loved it. It looked very pretty on the plate.
I had beef bresaola, marinated mushrooms and asparagus with truffled pecorino and this was a beautiful entree with a wonderful combination of flavours. I enjoyed this so much I’m going to try and replicate it for my own dinner parties.
Carl’s main course was sirloin with potato gratin and thyme-roasted oyster mushrooms. Well of course, having been served steak and potato there is no way Carl was going to find anything wrong with his dish. I did look at the steak and noticed it was cooked medium-rare. Not rare enough for Carl’s usual request for steak that is served just about raw but nothing so serious that he couldn’t enjoy his meal.
I had the chicken breast that was served with the wing bone. It came with caponata vegetables, king couscous, water cress and almond salad. There’s no photo. I ate it and then realised I’d forgotten to pull out the camera – I must have been drunk. The chicken was moist which is always a welcome relief to a dry bird. I loved the king couscous but would have liked a few more vegetables which would have given extra colour to the plate – it was all a bit blond.
Carl hit the jackpot with dessert (of course). He had a warm chocolate fondant with mascarpone cream and candied chilli. That certainly kept him quiet. There were no talkies until he’d finished. He didn’t notice any heat from the candied chilli but it did bring a lovely colour to the plate.
I didn’t fare so well. I was given the apple and blackberry crumble cake with macadamia ice cream. The ice cream was lovely and creamy and hadn’t melted at all before arriving in front of me which was nice but the crumble was just too dry and cakey and crumbly. I think it needed more fruit and less cake.
There were speeches but not too many and a raffle but no, I didn’t win the trip to Tuscany or even the trip to Coffs Harbour or the Penfolds wine or the Peter Kingston painting. Carl and I were hoping the Peter Kingston was going to be auctioned so we could at least have an attempt at winning it, but no, it went to a woman who was quite underwhelmed by it. We had a chat to her and told her all about the artist and how we have one of his charcoal drawings and how she’s just won a very valuable and very beautiful piece of art. She said we made her feel better about her prize. I asked her where she’s from. ‘Malaysia’, she said, ‘And I’m a very good cook. When I’ve hung the painting on my wall I’ll have you over for dinner so you can see it’. I won’t let you down, readers – I will blog that event!
And then it was time to go but not before a woman in a turquoise pantsuit came up to me, all smiles. (I’ve always been wary of anyone in a turquoise pantsuit.) Now, Lucy is my sister and it is her husband who is stepping away from business and into the political arena. This woman somehow knew I was connected to Lucy so she asked, ‘Are you Lucy’s mother?’ Like I said, beware anyone in a turquoise pantsuit. Yes, I am older than my sister. But I’m six years older, not 36 years older.
And I thought I looked so spritely in my new dress with my blow-dried hair.
It was a lovely night and a great opportunity to support Lucy and her husband. Doltone House is stunning and in an incredible location and I’d be happy to attend a function there, any time.
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