Australian Outback Wine Dinner

Last week, I was invited to one of the Atlantic City Country Club’s wine pairing dinners. The country club, located in Northfield, provided a rustic setting in an old world dining room with floors made of ship’s wood. Even on a rainy evening, the view was spectacular with the lights of Atlantic City visible in the distance.

September’s meal conjured the Australian Outback in every course. We walked in to a social hour featuring Penfolds Winery’s Pinot Noir #23 and Thomas Hyland Chardonnay along with smoked scallops and jumbo prawns with a spicy kiwi glaze, a brilliant indicator that dinner was going to be nothing short of incredible.

We started with sweet potato curry soup with coconut milk and mussels. This essentially combines all my favorite flavors into one creamy, sweet and spicy starter. The milk tamed the spiciness to keep it mild and gave it an almost Thai flavor. The mussels were a perfect addition, nice and tender. I had to restrain myself from slurping the whole bowl!

Then came the salad- grilled asparagus piled with macadamia nuts and cranberries. If the world went backwards and salads were dessert, this salad would be chocolate cake. The sweetness balanced with the nuts and the tanginess of the cranberries to create a real treat.

The soup and salad were paired with Penfolds’ Eden Valley Riesling- a white with floral notes as well as fruity that seemed to change flavors entirely with the dish. During the soup course, the wine took on a spiciness I’ve never experienced in wine before. With the salad, the riesling lost the spice and transformed into a sweeter, more acidic version.
Molasses Glazed Beef Tenderloin

For dinner, Chef Ed prepared the most flavorful, tender medallions of beef tenderloin in a molasses glaze with garlic ginger green beans and carrots on top of a crispy rice cake. Though molasses is probably my favorite flavor, I never would have thought to combine it with beef and wow! Sweet and smoky elements make for an unforgettable dinner. The beef tenderloin was paired with Penfolds’ shiraz which had both spicy and smoky tones that tied the meal together by enhancing the ginger and molasses flavors.

After dinner, we had a little shooter of mango, pineapple, orange juice and Malibu rum followed by passion fruit Bavarian pineapple upside down cake for dessert. I love desserts that are tart and fruity. The little mango volcano was exactly that! It was subtle and refreshing, not overwhelming or too filling.

We ended the evening more than satisfied and couldn’t stop talking about the meal for the rest of the night! Chef Ed Daggers is unbelievably talented and these wine pairing dinners can’t be missed. Experience the country club’s Fall Harvest Wine Dinner on Thursday, October 28th for $79 per person.

Atlantic City Country Club
One Leo Fraser Drive
Northfield, NJ 08225
(609) 236-4465

Alison Heller is the Jersey Bites Cape May County Regional Editor. She also writes for and She grew up on the beach in Wildwood Crest and currently works in advertising. After earning her Master of Fine Arts in English and Creative Writing in New York City (a place that was essentially Food Rehab), she stopped putting ketchup on everything and started experimenting with flavors. She loves sushi and cupcakes, sushi that looks like cupcakes, but never cupcakes that look like sushi.