Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spinifex Barossa Valley Papillon 2009

“Make the best of what we offer you, and you will suffer less than you deserve.” Camp Commandant from Papillon

I remember watching this for the first time on a wet and wintery Fremantle day when I was about 11. It let me with one lesson; no matter how much you try, you’ll always be trapped. This was pretty heavy for me at the time, but never the less apt – I had two older sisters and was always the whipping boy with no escape. But enough about my traumatic childhood.

So far this is my second favourite wine of the year. The Spinifex Barossa Papillon Barossa Valley 2009. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mataro, this wine started as mistaken identity; I meant to grab the Bête Noir, but in my haste one evening I grabbed this (have since grabbed it about five times!).

This wine caught me off guard. Quite opaque and dirty in the glass, the nose offers a wonderful mix of dried herbs and tart red fruit. The palate is very true to the nose with more tart red fruit, cranberry being the dominant for me, with tight and clean acid certainly making its presence known throughout the whole bottle. This is also the type of wine that needs food, not just a lazy Friday night quoffer.

Drink with rump steak and béarnaise sauce
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.8%v/v $27 from Blackhearts & Sparrows, North Fitzroy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A right of reply to Toni Jordan's article in 'The Age', September 7, 2010

It’s been a while hasn’t it.

It was about 12 months ago that I took a fair run up and had a whack at Michael Shmith from ‘The Age’. He wrote a restaurant etiquette article which was published in ‘Epicure’ where he basically had a go at various front of house rituals; my favourite was when he asked a FOH manger where the toilets were only to be looked at oddly and without directions. We all know Michael that the trees across the road from the restaurant would have been fine!

So with this I had my right of reply. And even though I wasn’t at that time working in a restaurant (still not), I couldn’t just read this self indulgent drivel and not get my soapbox out.

Move almost 12 months on and it seems another worldly Age journo has gotten out a stick and gone whack at restaurants again. And the reason this time; dodgy adjectives to describe menu’s!

Now I sort of agree that some menus go a bit far in selling their fare; giving the town from where the beast was raised to me is a little too personal. I don’t want to know that said bovine lived next door to old Mabel in Royal Street Wonthaggi – the district will suffice.

What got up my goat about this article, written by the smiling Toni Jordan, and the same with the Shmith article from last year is they don’t name restaurants. Is this so Dubecki and Co aren’t chased out of eateries by meat cleaver wielding chefs?
When writing an article like this, shouldn’t you start with real examples of what she calls ‘... dodgy adjectives to gloriously describe a menu is simply poor taste.’ What I find poor taste is what she starts with:

''FREE-RANGE organic brown wild duck breast and leg (but not the thigh because that's too fatty), stuffed with hand-polished Israeli pearl couscous, surrounded by a sprinkling of sun-dried heirloom apple picked by naked virgins under a full moon, and crescendoed by kalamata olives pickled by my Greek grandmother in Brunswick 1999.''

Followed with.....

''Slow-cooked tails surgically removed from happy oxen who spend their lives listening to Mozart, nestled on a Doona of home-made wholemeal chestnut gnocchi, napped by a jus studded with chunks of oven-roasted then smoked embryonic beetroot and ribbons of black cavelo nero that has travelled only 80 food miles to get here, on the back of the forementioned now-tailless ox.''

Come on! Show me one menu in Melbourne that comes within three light years of the above rants and I will happily buy you dinner Toni. I bet you that if you saw on a menu, ‘Duck – cooked here’, you would surely be curious in how it was cooked. What about the wine list – would you like red or white with your piece of meat?

All this is is a generalist insight in to Melbourne restaurants: do you think Jacque Reymond or Guy Grossi are two chefs she is taking aim at? What about Shannon Bennet or Teague Ezard? Don’t think so.

I dunno, maybe it has been a quiet news week; I can't think of anything that has been making the news over the past few weeks except for some bloke in FNQ wearing a silly hat!

Question; are all journalists as right wing as Andrew Bolt? Maybe that is a generalist remark on journalists or is Toni just getting a little out of hand like the all of the other Melbourne menu descriptors are. Ponderous, really ponderous!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fathers Day 2010

Father, n. A quartermaster and commissary of subsistence provided by nature for our maintenance in the period before we have learned to live by prey. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

Father’s Day has come and gone and this dad has, like many, increased his undy collection.

Unlike last year, Father’s Day this year was an indoor occasion due to this never ending winter that still has a tight hold on the garden state. But Father’s day; a sleep in and breakfast in bed and peace and quiet until about 10am.

Father’s Day this year was pretty slim for presents; this is fine though, I’m not moaning. This year is Imogen’s first year at school, and the Thursday before there was a Father’s Day market after school where she got me a notebook, a pen and a beautiful tie (which I duly to work); just what a dad needs hey!

Because the BBQ was out of action due to the weather, red meat was off the menu – kitchen vent is on the fritz. But not to worry. Lately I have had a hankering for fish, and more importantly Asian inspired fish dishes. On this night it was sweet soy-glazed salmon (no photo unfortunately). Absolutely gorgeous!! Now you gotta be careful with fish. It is so easy to overcook, especially when you start it in the pan then transfer it to the oven. But this salmon was just perfect.

Just before sticking the salmon in the oven I pulled out my wine from the fridge and left it sit for 10 minutes to raise the temp; I don’t like my white wine too cold, especially when it is a bottle of Giaconda Beechworth Chardonnay 2005 – Cette boutielle porte le No. 03154. Slightly golden in the glass, the nose sprang to attention with a waft of butterscotch and licorice powder standing out. The palate was still being held together with crisp acid, not achingly tort, but very much the master holding everything in place – nougat, citrus, mealy hazelnuts and a great minerality feel about the wine. Now it’s not the best Giaconda chardonnay I have had – the 2002, but it still such a great wine, and thankfully I have been patient and still have two bottles left.

Drink with soy-glazed salmon
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.8%v/v $75 mailing list