Entries Tagged 'Drink and Drunk' ↓

Late Winter Vineyard lunching action

My dear friend Katie recently had the decency to move from Dangar Island to the same suburb I live in. We loved visiting them on Dangar, which is in the Hawkesbury river near Sydney and very beautiful, but it really is much more convenient to live around the corner and see each other several times a week.

It was her birthday recently, and she wanted a nice lunch out. Well, actually she wanted dinner but what with her and partner Aneal’s three year old, our children, two sets of babysitting arrangements and a desire to drink wine we ended up at lunch at Shaw vineyard’s Flint in the Vines in Murrumbateman, about a half hour drive out of Canberra. It’s being run by Grant Kells, one of the guys behind the swanky but by some reports over-promising and under-delivering Flint Dining Room and Bar in Canberra, and front of house is run by former Longrain sommelier Jai Dawson.

And don’t worry, I am not missing the irony of my first post in forever being a restaurant review, which I never do.

Aneal eats fish occasionally, but not meat or gluten, and Flint’s menu seemed pretty flexible. There’s a very decent kid’s menu and there were well behaved and charming children of all ages enjoying lunch in big family groups.

The wine list is very, very reasonable, particularly if you stick to the Shaw wines. We had some shampoo to start, the Shaw sparkling semillon for $26. I was enjoying the slightly sweet lemon-y and biscuit-y flavours until Owen said “lemon cheesecake!” We had the Isabella Riesling, $33, with mains and it had the same lemon myrtle kind of flavours – must be the house style, hunh?

It’s a comfortable but unponcy joint, a dining room with an open fire adjoining the vineyard’s cellar door tasting area.
We were planning to take our time, so all had entrees and mains and shared a couple of desserts.

Katie had “Pork Belly and Toasted Hazelnut Terrine, Red onion jam, toasted brioche”

The terrine was just past nicely crumbly and heading towards dry, but as you see it was tasty.

Aneal had Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Green asparagus, baby herb mix, white truffle dressing

I Do Not Approve of white truffle dressing in Canberra in August. For quite a few reasons. Or asparagus, really, but the tuna separated softly to the tooth and was quite delicious.

I had a special, tempura prawns with a something sauce and nori

I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I’m losing my tolerance for sweetness. I can remember thinking as I tasted it that I should have known from the menu description it would be too sweet; cloying. Lovely bouncy prawns, though.

The final entree was Owy’s Quick Fried Spiced Calamari, Blue cheese aioli, lemon.

This is one of those “Masterchef Aaron YumYuk” things. Horrible and wonderful at the same time, although I’m not sure it’s on purpose.

For mains, Katie and Owy had the Wood Fired Weekend Roast

It’s pretty cheap at $26, but even for that you don’t want the beef cooked beyond medium. The yorkshire puddings, on the other hand, were perfect.

Aneal had beautiful Wild Barramundi Meuniere , brown lemon butter, steamed Kipfler potatoes

and I had “Master Stock Braised Pork Belly, Sautéed king scallops, Ginger soy mirin glazed wild mushrooms

again, too sweet, and again, beautifully cooked lovely fresh seafood.

I’m over sweets, but I was really looking forward to some cheese – but they were out. Sniff. The desserts we shared aren’t on the current menu, so I’m struggling to remember how they were described. We had a pannacotta with a chocolate and hazlenut gelato

The other, much less successful, dish was a trio of chocolate desserts:

On the left was a chilli-chocolate mousse, which was fine. In the middle was a chocolate and banana brulee. There is no reason, however, to put banana in a chocolate brulee. Or any other kind of brulee. If I’m going to have a hot banana, I want it flaming in rum, goddamit. The final element was a large, crumbly dry cakey type arrangement that seemed liked it should have been served up by someone wearing a nosering and birkenstocks.

The service was brisk enough, and the waiter responded very well when I replied to his question about how our mains were by holding up a long, curly blonde hair. We’d all thought it was unfortunate but no big deal, but as expected the cost of the dish was removed from the bill. If I was the owner, I would ask that in future he not carry it suspended from his hand, face aghast, all the way back to the passe and shout out “Chef! A hair!” quite so loudly. The other staff were an endearing mix of country girls with painstakingly dishevilled updos.

For a long enjoyable lunch and plenty of wine, the bill came to under $100 a head. If you’re going, I’d stick to the seafood and pick up a bottle of the sticky on the way home. It was a very nice lunch, and we all had a lovely time.

Emica goes in pursuit of lunch in Paris and Berlin

How glamorous. What air of intrigue. How totally European: to take the 20:15 night train from Paris to Berlin; alone. I feel like a character from a Tolstoy novel or perhaps a fugitive agitator, en route to foment revolution and bring about the downfall of the owning classes, delivering the means of production into the hands of the workers. Ahem. Apologies. Having had a starring role in books and films, as well as actual history, European train travel is so evocative that I get a bit carried away with the romance of the tracks. (If you’re doubtful, check this site out; I get a sudden urge to book long journeys to exotic destinations).

Air travel has become a tedious cattle market experience, so recently I took the overnight train from Paris to Berlin. While both cities have earnt a place at the table of world history, it can be tricky to get a bite to eat in either.

I’ve been to Paris a few times now and have done the major sights, so with just an afternoon in the city before my connecting train, I figured it would be best spent over a leisurely lunch. Unfortunately, I arrived in Paris at 2.30 and so missed my place at a bistro, as the dining hours are observed very strictly. Having reconciled myself to an afternoon without a creme caramel, the tricky thing about having over shot the lunch hour is that, in Feb it’s not as inviting to grab a baguette, some cheese and a slice of apricot tart and find a park bench. It’s a little chilly. But, the weather was mild and sunny- and hunger wins over cold- so a picnique was my best bet to eat.

You know those cheese and bacon slices that Brumby’s does? From memory, inch thick rubber cheese pocked with pellets of salted animal byproduct on pizza dough. Well, the cheese and bacon slice I got from the swank Parisian bakery was about as far from Brumby’s in a culinary sense as it is in geographic distance. Stinky gruyere with nuggets of speck on flaky butter pastry. One euro fifty slice of cheesey goodness. I also got an olive ficelle, which was almost 50/50 squashy kalamatas to chewy sourdough. And thank goodness I did because I didn’t really eat for nearly the next 24 hours, except to nibble a bit more of the unending ficelle.

Part of the reason I don’t manage to eat is I was too busy drinking, which won’t come as much of a surprise to many. A joy of travel is chance encounters and a party of two English couples celebrating a joint birthday take me under their wing in the bar carriage. We planned to test the urban myth that a train barman stays as long as his customers and I stumbled (well, it is a moving train!) into my couchette rather later than I’d planned, having not eaten the snacks I brought along as dinner. I’m not usually too pernickity, but in the morning I decide that it’s probably best not to breakfast on yesterday’s quiche, still wrapped in its greaseproof; eggs in a warm couchette for 12 hours doesn’t sound like a good idea. The ficelle tides me over.

Berlin is big. Compared to London, with its dense, higgledy, narrow streets and people under foot at every turn, Berlin is huge and wide and straight and empty and I feel a bit disoriented by the space. An interesting fact a colleague in economic development told me is that, when major cities across the western world were gaining population in the past 20 years, Berlin lost people.

An olive ficelle is not much to keep a girl going for a whole morning of sight seeing and so I headed towards a place recommended in my guide book that seemed to be only three blocks away. Except, three blocks in spacious Berlin seems to be about a kilometre and a half in distance and, in empty Berlin, didn’t offer many alternative eating options along the way either. I never found the well recommended restaurant due possibly to my confusion with street numbering or the great Saturday shut down, but instead found Lutter & Wegner, an entirely charming piece of European civilisation, with wine lined walls, floorboards and scrubbed wooden tables.

The menu tended towards proper main courses and the tables around me had plates of serious looking food, but the terrine I ordered was exactly what I felt like eating. They were very generous with the bread basket of very good bread (caraway!) so with that and a glass of reisling, I was very pleased with myself. I was even more pleased when my dessert arrived – curd cheese cake with sour cherries and nougat icecream with a huge twirl of wafer. Alright!

The lovely English people from the train had invited me to join them for dinner and so I had a second thoroughly enjoyable night drinking too much with strangers – which sounds a lot more salacious than it was. It struck me that this was the kind of European food I almost never eat – ordinarily I cook more in the mediterranean-middle eastern palette and, post Friday work pints, continue the theme with a kebab on the way home. Chic, refined European cooking isn’t something I often do, but I may make it more of a habit because my lobster soup was delicious: smooth, velvety and fishy, and the pork with leek risotto to follow was excellent. I’m a little hazy on what my new found friends had because of the reisling – I think the fellas may have had lobster at some point, tuna carpaccio was mentioned and due to the heavy meat element in the menu the waiter was at pains to help the one vegetarian get a full meal.

Prenzlauer Berg, an inner north area of former East Berlin, is now a very hip quarter, with lots of cafes, bars, hipsters on bikes and, oddly, babies. I’ve never seen so many Bugaboos! After the last couple of days wearing out my shoe leather in pursuit of food, I’d started feeling cursed to wander, seeking sustenance but forever denied. In Prenzlauer Berg however, the fault was all mine. It wasn’t for lack of choice – the main street is dominated by various cafes, including a bar on the ground floor of a squat – but my pickiness about the kinds of signifiers I look for in somewhere to eat. And my choosiness can mean very long walks to see what’s round the next corner. So after some legwork on Kastanienallee, I lucked upon a super cool cafe on Oderberger Strase. So cool that I can’t remember it’s name written in German in neon on the front. This cafe served only crepes (which should be due a comeback in the English speaking world I think) and, riffing on a retro theme, was entirely decorated with raids from some stylish nanna’s living room.

In a country that invented the last word in cake related indulgence – schwarzwelderkirschtorte [black forest cake]- my last food adventure was kafee und kuchen at Anna Blume, a cafe and florist rolled into one with a very sexy painting of a Demeter-type figure in Art Noveau style on one wall and a glass cabinet of cakes. Mmmm sachertorter…

And just one final thought – train stations featured quite prominently during the weekend and this chain of croissant and pretzel shops was always found somewhere near the platforms. It just sounds vaguely rude, doesn’t it?!

Men are from Uruk, Women are from Assyria

The Devil Drink
Thank you all, for failing to point out the other week that the story of Moses’ communication with God through the medium of a burning bush is not actually in Genesis, but rather in the book of Exodus. Hurrah for modern Scripture, I say.

In this edition, Dylwah gets anthropo-theologico-literary, Kirsty looks curiously at the cooking sherry, and Zoe has two bites of the cherry, asking about cocktails and the proper place for homebrew.

Shaken or stirred?
Zoe

Ah, now this is both a recipe question, and an espionage question.

As it relates to the dry martini, Bond was on his own. It’s generally a stirred drink—two parts gin, one part dry vermouth, pop in an olive or two on a stick and you’re done—but what’s not often remembered in the early 20th Century it was often made in large jugs to be shared, making shaking a technically impossible task. That form of the drink doesn’t often survive in these contemporary days of showy Tom Cruise bartendering and polished cocktail shakers, and when Ian Fleming’s hero asked for his to be shaken, it was supposed to be to read as a clear signalling of his individualism, difference and deviance. Modern readers and viewers tend only to get the first implication of the drink order. With what we know about the author’s… peculiarities, it’s probably best to leave 007 there.

As British spies go, I’m far more a fan of George Smiley, who enjoyed his claret at his club while he considered Cold War paradoxes and German baroque poetry, of outright despicable liars and traitors like the real-life scumbag Kim Philby, and of Graham Greene’s confidential agent, protagonist of a book written over the course of a benzedrine-fuelled, debt-driven six weeks or so. (I read it in the author’s foreword, so it must be true.) But then, I’m a traditionalist like that.

I don’t do Conrad or Dostoyevsky, but I’ve been known to enjoy Dumas… and with what you know about this author’s peculiarities, it’s probably best to leave the subject there.

In the Mesopotamian epic, Gilgamesh, Enkidu is introduced to us as naked and wild. He is ‘tamed’ through a combination of beer and the erotic arts of a temple priestess. My questions are these, is being tamed an unavoidable consequence of drinking beer or are the attentions of a highly trained priest or priestess also necessary for the taming process? will i avoid being tamed by sticking to wine and spirituous liquors? and finally, does the elevation of filthy lucre to godhead status mean that accountants are the new priest and priestesses, and should i let my children date one?
Dylwah

It’s hard to tell, Dylwah, given that there have been so few examples of the act. We’re really generalising from a sample of one—and certainly people in our contemporary days who drink lots of beer show little signs of taming. However, your magnificent question illustrates precisely why I’m a strong supporter of the ordination of women, and the equal participation of women in all religion.

Put simply: I don’t know whether beer and priestess sex correlate with taming, but by all means, let’s find out.

Christ chose Peter to be the rock upon which he built his Church, and from that sound basis, we got the Arian Controversy, the Councils of Nicaea, the split between Roman and Byzantine Churches, the Medieval Popes, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, furious Calvinist iconoclasm, the Spanish Inquisition and the Conquistadors in Latin America. We got Puritans with pillories, the metaphysical poets, Cathars in castles, Billy Graham, Fred Nile, Cardinal Newman, G.K. Chesterton and and Evelyn Waugh. We got Gregorian chant, Bach, Andrew Lloyd Webber, gospel music, and nuns with guitars. Sure, it was two millenia of fun, but (Medieval Popes, Evelyn Waugh, and gospel music apart) there wasn’t a lot of drunken priestess sex, now, was there?

It’s not too late to turn society, ecumenically, around. From what we know about the attentions of erotically-trained Mesopotamian priestesses on ancient mythical epic heroes, we can certainly look forward to much more interesting religion if they’re hired in every suburban MegaChurch™. As Dylwah describes, Enkidu, wild man of the forests, gets drunk and is seduced, and as a consequence of his taming from the natural state, he has warlike and totally rad adventures with his best mate Gilgamesh across ancient Mesopotamia. (For those of you under thirty, imagine Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but less Californian, and with more sex and killing). Imagining that taming is an unavoidable consequence of beer drinking, is it really that bad? All I’m saying, is give Shamhat a chance.

As for accountants, well, I’ll let the joke about people who think they’re Gods just go without the telling.

I’ve just remembered a question that came up a while ago in discussion with dogpossum about the whole ‘only cook with what you’d drink’ debate. She was told by a bottle shop attendant that it was a myth, that you could put any old vinegar in your cooking.
Kirsty

I’ve heard both sides of this argument as well, Kirsty. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a fundamental misunderstanding about alcohol in cookery based on mutual good intentions. I don’t know on which sides of the argument you and dogpossum lie, but I know where I do. Let’s see if I can recap the arguments—please correct me if I’m wrong.

Watching her friend reach up on top of the fridge for the three-quarters empty chateau cardboard to start the evaporation over the arborio rice in her risotto, the connoisseur of fine wine and good beer points to the unpredictablity of life, the risk of waking up dead tomorrow, and points out in a reasonable tone that life’s too short to drink shitty generic cask white. Why wouldn’t you cook with what you drink, she asks, if her friend places as high a value on the quality of her cookery as on her erudite palate? In return, the risotto cook points out that as she does place a high value on the wine she’s drinking, she’s hardly likely to want to waste even half a glass of the $40 Barossa Valley riesling they’re drinking just to flavour onions, and anyway, what’s her problem with a decent, well-trusted and high-selling Australian brand of dry cask white like Coolibah, and whose house does she think she’s in anyway, and would she please keep chopping those fucking mushrooms she’s ignoring and shut her hard-face-bitch mouth?

(Well, you know, that’s how I picture debate over contemporary cuisine in Australia.)

My point of view is this: the connoisseur is entirely wrong, and the risotto cook entirely right and justified. As cooking is a means to an individual or social end—a meal—so is drinking a means to the wonderful, sought after end of being drunk. Certainly I’m prepared to believe that one can taste a risotto made with vintage white as opposed to one made with vinegary ends of a bottle or even with leftover vermouth, but even more certainly you can taste the difference between Veuve Clicquot and Mildura Spumante when you’re drinking the stuff as God and I intended: without rice.

If you can afford Yarra Valley pinots now that most of the Valley’s been burned and the prices have gone up, bloody well drink them, don’t pour ‘em into your coq au vin. The chicken’s dead, it’s hardly likely to enjoy the stuff as much as you are. Did oenologists and viniculturists sweat into those barrels just for the benefit of the cheap Coles broiler? Would you pour that Hennessy XO into your trifle? Would you contribute a Margaret River red to your children’s spaghetti bolognaise along with the usual teaspoon of sugar and splosh of Worcestershire sauce? When cooking with alcohol, use cooking alcohol, and when drinking, drink drinking alcohol (which may, I rush to point out, depending on your budget and circumstances, also be cooking alcohol). That’s my rather intolerant verdict.

Cooking and drinking: equal, but separate.

how does one balance the intense pleasure of quantities of extremely fine home brewed beer available for the drinking at one’s pleasure with the many – MANY – accompanying hours of discussion on matters such as sparging, yeast harvesting and the colonisation of the small boy’s wardrobe for beer conditioning?
Zoe

That’s your second question, Zoe, but since it’s your blog, I suppose you get your own way.

It seems that, like in physics, your problems relate to the interconnectedness of energy, space, and time. A carboy in a child’s wardrobe could be a sign of tremendous ingenuity, like the Chicago Pile-1 nuclear reactor built in the pioneer 1940s out of bits of timber and graphite in a Chicago rackets court, or it could be the sign of a runaway chain reaction of hops and malty brewing mass that could engulf your children in an explosion of warm, sticky, yeasty goo. Without considerable research and blind testing (ie. until blind) it’ll be hard to tell which it is. Or is it the capped sealed beer bottles slowly carbonating towards a drinkable state that lie in your son’s room amongst the clothes and toys? I hesitate to suggest that as he gets to be a teenager, this is a problem of storage that might solve itself.

If what you want is the relocation of the brewing process outside your house, what about a co-operative with its own shed or hired garage? It occurs to me that brewing’s just the kind of activity that would benefit from the sharing of tools and knowledge, and that could be made cheaper by the pooling of money to buy raw material. A group of brewers would be able to use space and energy together a lot more effectively, and they’d be able to share, as you describe it, their extremely fine home brewed beer. You’d get beer swapping, you’d get communal advice and learnings, you’d get all of the crap out of your own shed and into someone else’s.

I can offer no advice, I am sorry to say, about dealing with constant tedious bullshit from one’s spouse. I’m the Antichrist, not Dr. John Gray.

And for that, let us all be truly grateful.


The Devil Drink answers your curiosities, satisfies your disagreements, and lays down the law on drinkers’ etiquette. Your questions for the next, irregular, edition may be asked in comments below or anonymously to thedevildrink@yahoo.com.au The sage advice of columns past can be found here.

If You Don’t Like My Fire, Don’t Cite Genesis

The Devil Drink Once upon a time, our mutual host and gourmand Zoe prevailed upon me, communicating through the means of a bottle of bourbon, a half a dozen bummed B&Hs and her Judas Priest cassette compilation played on a held-together-with-sticky-tape 1990s Walkman with flat batteries, to come and give a fortnightly column of advice and agony auntery. Glad to, I said then. My pleasure.

Well, I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further.

It’s been a while since I rocked this progressive dinner party, and your pleas for advice, I regret, have gone without succour. I can only hope you haven’t been seeking out alternative sources of wisdom or—worst of all—attempting dangerous self-help. Dame Mint Pattie in her own special way has been doing My work and I salute her for it.

From now on, though they might be your questions, it’s My timetable.

Are we allowed to firebomb those responsible for brewing overseas brands here eg Becks and Heineken? I mean: what’s the point?
Harry

Honestly, I am not going to stop you doing it. If arson’s your thing, man, as the prophet said, let me stand next to your… fire.

I’m a bit unclear though on your motives. Are you offended by their market position, as a supporter of smaller brewers? By their pretentions to premium-beer status over other more worthy local labels—thinking in particular of the rather good Bluetongues? By the cultural imperialism of brands, nestling everywhere, settling everywhere, making connections everywhere, as Naomi Klein might have channelled Marx? Or is it just for shits ‘n’ giggles (as a wise man once noted, an underrated motive for terroristic violence)?

What’s the point of international brewing licences? I’d say it was making a recognisable consistent and reliable (if bland) product with a profitable brand. My principle is this: if the contents do the job, the label on the outside is just a bit of paper. It’s all going to the same place (well, one of two places) in the end anyway, so why be hung up on appellations? A rosé by any other name would… well, you know.

I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying, in all things, do unto others as you would be done by—then light that petrol bomb and fling it with My blessing.

What would Jesus drink? I know that one may not be so close to your heart, Dark One, but I’m curious as to what sort of grapes they were growing way back when, given lots of other crops have been bred into such different forms. Red for the most part I guess, but for Christ’s sake I hope it was better than communion wine or Kosher wine today.
FDB

What am I, FDB, Wikipedia?

Regarding the question of what Jesus drank: the traditional story (John 2:10-12) isn’t so much evidence about what Christ drank as about how:

…‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee…

It’s a story about being good to your guests. Jesus, way cool as he was, was illustrating the correct party-throwing procedures. The guy might have been a self-righteous pain-in-the-arse cultist, but he knew about catering.

Please note also the quantities involved in the wedding.

We’ve got these six (let’s say) 25-gallon jars. That would make how many bottles of wine? Well, 75 cl. to a bottle, 56.8 cl. to a pint, 8 pints to a gallon, so that makes 454.4 cl. to a gallon; so 150 gallons (from the six stone jars) equals 68,160 cl. of wine, divided by 75 cl. per bottle, equals 908.8 – round off to 900 – 900! – bottles of wine! Let’s say that, like today, there are around 100 guests at the reception. That comes to nine – nine! – bottles of wine per guest. Talk about binge drinking! And – the punchline of the story – by producing this excellent vintage in such copious quantities, Jesus “revealed his glory.”

DD, re the burning bush bit. Isn’t that the work of the Almighty? As I recall it was part of His campaign to impart an insight or two to Elijah. Credit where credit is due etc.
The Feral Abacus

Moses, Feral Abacus. Credit where credit is due, etc.


 The Devil Drink answers your curiosities, satisfies your disagreements, and lays down the law on drinkers’ etiquette. Your questions for the next, irregular, edition may be asked in comments below or anonymously to thedevildrink@yahoo.com.au The sage advice of columns past can be found here.

Dame Mint Pattie’s Canberra Wineries A2Z – Collector Wines

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Okay, so this is another winery that really shouldn’t be on the list, but…

Our Man and I first came across Collector Wines at the Cafe in the House* annual goat BBQ. It went down very smoothly and we wanted to try it again just to make sure it wasn’t the siren song of roast goat that lured us to the second glass.

A quick phone call to winemaker Alex McKay confirmed Collector doesn’t have a cellar door.

“I’m concentrating on getting the wines right first,” he said (or something like that – can’t read my notes). In any case, you’ve gotta like someone who’s more focused on what ends up in your glass than worrying about all the extras. It’s a decision that carries through to the bottleshop floor – Collector produces only two wines, a reserve shiraz and the Marked Tree Red, which both King James and Captain Hooke** give props (…the Ali G eps do come in handy at times).

The wines are available across Canberra: Airport Market Cellars, Plonk at Fyshwick, Cox Kelly in Civic and Georges Liquor Stable in Philip, as well as some of the IGAs (Deakin, Ainslie , O’Connor, Lynham). Alex explained most stores have the 06 Marked Tree Red. The 07, a frost year, had a low yield and the 08 has just been released. According to Alex the 08 is closer to the style he’s chasing – a lighter shiraz that still packs a punch – a bit like a burgundy.

With a slight nod to symmetry, we picked our bottle of 06 Marked Tree Red from the Kitchen Cabinet in OPH for $28 and matched it with a big, juicy Angus steak. The wine was deep red, almost magenta in colour, with a hint of white pepper on the nose and lots of berry flavours – fruit with a touch of sweetness but a dry peppery finish. It’s soft, juicy and went down a little too easily if you’re eating out but since we were at home…

Cellar door or no cellar door, if the 06 is this good, I’m very keen to try to an 08. And who knows, maybe OMIC will crack open his moth collection wallet for a taste of the reserve.

*I always want to call it Cafe in da House – too many Ali G episodes I guess
**or should I say James Halliday and Huon Hooke both rated these wines highly

www.collectorwines.com.au


These posts are cross posted from Our Notional Capital, where Dame Pattie blogs with her partner, our man in Canberra. The progressive list of Canberra and region wineries is here.

Canberra Wineries A2Z – Clonakilla

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Okay, let’s get the obvious question out of the way first. No, we didn’t get to try Tim Kirk’s fabled shiraz viognier. Yes, it was a little disappointing but hardly surprising given it’s considered by many to be the duck’s nuts of Canberra wines. In any event, there were plenty of other wines to taste including a sem sauv blanc, some shiraz, a couple of viogniers and even a young port taking its first baby steps.

clonakilla sign

Along with Helm and Lambert, Clonakilla (church meadow) is one of three wineries claiming to be the oldest in this region (and we’ll let them work this one out amongst themselves). Whatever the case, the Kirk family as been growing grapes and making wines for almost 40 years and happily this experience shows in the bottle. They’ve had plenty of time to get the shiraz viognier mix right too, having adopted the practice of adding a touch of viognier back in 1992, after Tim’s trip to the Rhone Valley the year before.

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Dame Mint Pattie’s Canberra Wineries A2Z – Brindabella Hills

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I wasn’t in the best mood for wine tasting the day we visited Brindabella Hills Winery. It was a bitter Canberra winter’s day and Our Man and I had a wide-ranging argument discussion about the best way to spend the afternoon.

Brindabella Hills was on our list but didn’t offer food, so he suggested taking along a picnic. I pointed to the level of the mercury cringing in the thermometer bulb and hastily threw a few items together, thinking that I’d be able to persuade him into going somewhere with tablecloths and waiters.

Upon arrival, however, things started looking better. I like parrots and when I spotted a small posse of Crimson Rosellas as we rolled up to the cellar door, I took it as a sign that the afternoon was about to improve.

Brindabella Hill

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Live blogging the after-party party

[By Ampersand Duck] Aloha from chez PDP, where Jethro is mushing up tinned tomatoes in the tin with a bread & butter knife whilst yelling like a ninja, Zoe is explaining how hard the Bhutanese neighbours can party to my lovely brother-in-law (S) who has been to Bhutan and loves it, all the other kids are battling at deafness level in the loungeroom, Best Beloved and Dr Sista Outlaw are quietly and tired-ly drinking their way through some of the Studio Warming leftover booze, and Owen is supervising the Pudding-Off boiling on a couple of gas burners in the front yard.

We are all high from a great afternoon, where I did not much more than stand and talk to most of the guests (I missed some, or pretty much anyone who didn’t push in and make themselves known)and take lots of kind and gushy compliments — but I was only able to do this because of this fabulous bunch of people. They cooked, chopped, plated (!), laid out glasses, poured, cleaned, washed and picked up. I’ve never been in the position to need that sort of back-up, and I can see how it could be pretty addictive [Naomi, aka Dr Sista Outlaw, requested that I mention that Underground Lovers are on in the background. Wow, so they are. The layers of sound in this room are amazing.]; I’m jealous of people who have agents and managers.

We are going to celebrate a successful celebration by eating. My initial thought was to go to a restaurant, since I thought everyone would be sick of kitchenwork, but generous Zoe wants to feed us all, so she’s whipping up a quick bacon & tomato pasta for the kids, and we’re having a mushroom and truffle risotto (she made me smell fresh truffle at the markets this morning… OMG). But we can’t eat too much because we have not one, not two but THREE full-size Christmas puddings to taste and discuss… three versions of the same pudding, cooked by BB, Naomi and Zoe, and the differences and quality will be taken very seriously.

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