A wine night to remember on Yorkeys Knob: Jais on the Beach

What's new in Cairns and around Tropical North Queensland on the Cairns Unlimited daily blog.Tuesday was a very special day on Yorkeys Knob. It heralded for local beachfront restaurant Jai’s On The Beach the first of their special Wine Nights. Now, when word got out that Jai’s were putting on a a gourmet six-course dinner, each course accompanied by a different - carefully selected - Australian wine, there wasn’t much chance of Maria and I not being there.

 Australian wines are great, or course - world class - but both Maria and myself do miss the ‘availability’ of wine that we enjoyed in Spain. Drinkable wines need not cost much more than four or five dollars in the supermarket there, and I have seen some smalltown bars in rural Spain which sell wine cheaper than CocaCola.

I must say, we had fairly high expectation of the Wine Night at Jai’s, but from the first course, it was obvious that our expectations were to be exceeded. To start, we were presented with a chilled chicken and prawn Vietnamese roll with a cucumber vinaigrette, served with a crisp, light Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. I watched the expressions on the other diners’ faces as they took their first sip and their first nibble, and I must say that if the chef was also watching, he would have been very pleased with himself. It was delight and surprise all round.

Wine night at Jai's on the Beach, Yorkeys Knob

Second course was a wonton wrapped leader prawn with mandarin sauce and crispy noodles, and although I am not a fan of seafood, I gobbled this one up… much to Maria’s disappointment! It was served with a Semillon Chardonnay which was heavier and more robust that the opening wine, but well suited to the tastier food.

Third course was a tender and mouthwateringly tasty little serve of lamb with celerac mash and red wine jus. The lamb was accompanied by a Merlot, which didn’t really grab me one way or the other.

Course number four was apricot glazed quail on a bed of wild rice. I didn’t leave much meat on the bones, and the flavour and texture were fine, but in hindsight it was probably my least favourite course by default (I’ve never been that excited about eating tiny birds). Fortunately, the wine rep had now opened a Cabernet for us to try, and it was nothing short of spectacular. I asked for a second glass of that, leaving the Merlot to the side for later… when all the good stuff was gone!

Fifth course, and Oh.My.God. I had just been explaining to our American tablemates (a wine night can be a fairly social affair) that kangaroo meat, if treated and cooked carefully, is the most wonderful meat on the planet. And this was a prime example… tender little medallions of kangaroo filet mignon, perched on grilled sweet potato, and topped with red peppers, with a fruit chutney. What a perfect combination. By this stage of the meal, I can’t remember if another new bottle of wine presented itself, or if I was still embalming myself in that wonderful Cabernet. The highlight of my night came when Maria said she couldn’t finish her plate - she had just eaten too much already - and most of her portion of kangaroo was slid across the table to me.

Jai's On The Beach owners Peter and Lisa Munn.Dessert was a delicious, rich white chocolate mousse with poached pears, accompanied by a sweet dessert wine. Maria expected that I might share my dessert with her, since she had been so generous with her main course. She was wrong on that point. The dessert wine was a bit syrupy for me (yeah, yeah I know that’s how it’s meant to be) and in hindsight I should have ordered a strong coffee to go with it. That was my only regret for the night, and I must congratulate Peter and Lisa from Jai’s On The Beach for an extraordinary event pulled off with flair in spite of challenging circumstances*.

* In other news, Yorkeys Knob was flooded that night, and was cut off from the rest of the world for a day or two. No big deal really.
Maria takes an important phone call while local kids test the depth of the floodwater at Yorkeys Knob, just north of Cairns.

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