Adelaide Day 3 – Handorf and the Hills

Thinking about bubbles Reidel vampire bat glasses

This will be a short one. Day three in Adelaide was spent trekking up to the hills to check out the venue for the weekends wedding. The wedding and the reception both being held at Mount Lofty House, and everyone we met all said “Ohhh, Mt Lofty… it’s lovely up there”. They were right, it was.

So after doing a prerequisite tourist stop at the lookout nearby, we made our way through the hills to the small town (?) of Bridgewater, home to the famous Bridgewater Mill restaurant and Petaluma wines.
We didn’t have time to stop for lunch, which did look appealing despite the price. But a sampling of the wines was definitely on the cards. I particularly liked the Reisling and the Croser Sparkling White, and the Bridgewater Mill Shiraz was a very decent drop too. So a couple of bottles later and some shabby photos from the window of the car because it was raining and I didn’t want to get wet, and we were back on the road.

Now getting close to lunchtime, what better place to get your fill than at a pub in a German tourist town ! I’m still trying to make my mind up about Hahndorf. It has a certain shabby charm that is quite interesting, and the town is clearly clinging to it’s German settler ancestors roots as hard as it possible can. But there was a certain lack of sincerity about it, and a far too blatant feeling that it was all a big joke on tourists for me to feel entirely comfortable.

Certainly if I’d known the pub we went into for lunch had a spruiker out the front (who we had somehow avoided) we probably wouldn’t have stopped there at all. But still, the food was ok, if not cloying after three mouthfuls, and it was nice to sit down and chat to some apparent German enthusiasts who had driven four hours from Mt Gambier to get a bratwurst hotdog. But then who knows, maybe they were onto something. Perhaps bratwurst is the perfect fodder for a travelling wine taster to stock up on precious fat stores to absorb the alcohol. Or perhaps not.

Trio of Wurst

The final stop of this day was Nepenthe. A winery I’ve really enjoyed in the past, and maker of one of Australia’s best Sauvingnon Blancs. Not that I really like Sauvingnon Blanc that much, but I’m always willing to pretend I do if it makes me seem more in vogue :) I did quite like their Fugue, which is a Bordeaux style cabernet blend, and the Charleston Pinot Noir went a long way to convincing me I should try to get back into Pinot, after a prolonged spell of not trying any that I’ve liked.

NePenThe

Happy to have conquered another South Australian wine region (albeit briefly), we headed back into the city and did a little wander down the east end of Rundle St. Stopping by chance (or perhaps because of my preoccupation with lane ways), at East End Cellars, to be greeted by the affable Michael Andrewartha, who sold me a bottle of aged Henschke Gew├╝rztraminer (1999), and gave me a few tips on where to check out in the Barossa.

Which is where we’re heading to next :) (oh the suspense!)

Adelaide Day 2- McLaren Vale & Tapas

Nice Legs Tapas @ Mesa Lunga

In what may prove to be the most drawn out explanation of a week long holiday ever… I present day two of our trip to Adelaide. Cleverly titled to reflect the main events of said day.

The beauty of Adelaide (or one of them anyway), is that it’s a stones throw away from a handful of Australia, and indeed the worlds, best wine making regions. Just how close I had no idea until we got into the car to go to McLaren Vale, and a mere 20 minutes later were standing in a tasting room swirling Reidel glasses daubed with inky red stuff like nobody’s business.

McLaren Vale is unique in that it is actively promoting itself as a region that produces excellent Grenache. With a special regional label of sorts called Cadenzia being created especially for McLaren Vale winemakers wanting to display the best that their grenache has to offer. It’s an interesting initiative, and one that I think is a great idea. It gave us a real focus for what the region did well, and also made it possible to compare and contrast styles of wine that were different and special in their own ways.

So we had the best intentions of going everywhere, but I think time slows down when you’re in wine country, or should that be speeds up. It felt like we’d been to a lot of different places, and perhaps if the tourist map we were following had of been accurate we would have (nb: never trust tourist maps ! The giant grapes next to the giant knife and fork is not to scale !!), but by the end of the day we found that we’d only made it to 4 places !

Still, quality not quantity as I always (read: sometimes) say. We started off at Coriole, one of my favourite wineries, and making of some fantastic Italian varietals. The Sangiovese is an old favourite however we really loved the Fiano, which is a rather rare (for “new world” plantings) Italian white wine from the Campania region.

Next it was on to Chapel Hill, another great winery and recent recipient of some big awards. Of course, not knowing any of this, I didn’t fully appreciate a lot of their wines, although a trend that emerges over the day was that Tempranillo is becoming one of my favourite wines. We took a bottle of the Il Vescovo Tempranillo and sauntered onwards.

dArenburg

After that it was on to d’Arenburg, another of my favourite spots, and maker of some stunning Shiraz blends. Their “Laughing Magpie” Shiraz Viognier is one of the nicer styles of that wine I’ve tried recently, and the Stump Jump GSM is nearly an institution in cheap but tasty drinking. We splashed out a little and got a bottle of the Dead Arm Shiraz, the Cadenzia GSM, and the Laughing Magpie.

On to the final spot of the day, Mr Riggs and Pennys Hill. Pennys Hill is the vineyard and Mr Riggs (aka Ben Riggs) is the winemaker, who also runs his own label from the same location. Plenty more great Shiraz and Grenache blends as well as a little Clare Valley Reisling sneaking it’s way in, but what we came away with was a chocolaty and smooth bottle of fortified Shiraz.

Escaping McLaren Vale with a small cache of wine, a light wallet, and almost a wine dog (a super friendly jack russell terrior from Paxton), it was back to the big smoke for the evenings entertainment.

Now there are times when running a food blog really pays off. These are such times. Coming back from a long days wine tasting with little idea of where to go for more great eating that night, I paid a brief visit back to the comments section of my “I’m going to Adelaide, nah nah nah” post, to find an excellent, detailed, and ultimately very helpful comment from Zams who as well as confirming some of my other ideas, put forward Mesa Lunga as a restaurant well worth checking out. It took two seconds for me to see funky and tapas, and know it was up my alley.

Mesa Lunga is situated on the corner of morphett and gouger (now officially pronounced Goo-gah) streets in the centre of Adelaide, and looks and feels every bit the part that Zams described. Chilled out, refined, with a sexy edge to it, perhaps exacerbated by the door chick calling me babe… “Yeh sorry babe, all we’ve got is tables in the tapas section tonight”.

That’s cool, tapas is why we’re here babe… (I wish I was that clever).

So we grabbed some menus, opened a fine bottle of wine supplied by Kara (at a measely $15 / bottle corkage !), and went down the list ordering anything and everything that looked tasty.

A short run through included the tortilla, the patatas bravas, the whitebait, the baked mussels, the turkey meatballs, a goat meatballs pizza, crab croquettes, and some truly great salt cod balls.

Desserts were a chocolate tart with pashmak (that’s Persian fairy floss to the uninitiated), a creme caramel kind of thing, some stewed figs, and that bastion of Spanish desserts, churros, lovingly dunked in molten chocolate.

All up, the place was great. The food was good value, came quickly, and tasted great. I love it when tapas is done well, and this hit the spot for me. Nothing too fancy, nothing too expensive, but a focus on quality ingredients and a funky atmosphere. The manager Teale even managed to make me a passable espresso at the end of the night, which was from Rio coffee, seemingly the Adelaide roaster of choice for fresh beans.

Stuffed full, and ‘babed’ out, it was then off for a trip around the city, a few more photos of churches that will never see the light of day, and home to bed, ready for the next big adventure.

*stay tuned for more*

#Foodography 7 – Wine & Bottle

Prunotto Dolcetto D'Alba 2003

Just a quick post. I recently entered one of my photos into the Foodography group on Flickr, which is run by Sam of Becks & Posh, and Andrew of Spittoon, and Andrew was kind enough to link to my photo on Slashfood. The theme this month was Wine and Bottle. So basically take a photo of a glass/vessel/mouthful(?) of wine, along with the bottle it came in. I played around for a little while and was super happy when this one came out so nicely.

Oh yeh…and the wine was great. It’s a 2003 Dolcetto D’Alba, by Prunotto. Lovely drinking, and went sublimely well with my humble spaghetti and meatballs… which I shall post up soon.

Ok, thats all…carry on :)

Beef & Red Wine Ragout: Video Vanity

So for now here is the next episode in the egotistical world of my video blogging adventure.

Feel free to skip watching the video, as it’s basically 5 minutes or so of me cutting up vegetables and then throwing them in a pan. For those less inclined to listen to direct requests, or who have a particular love of 90’s French house music… then play on !

Here’s some photos in the meantime.

Family dinner

Beef & Red Wine Ragout

Beef & Red Wine Ragout

Eggplant Pizza with Buffalo Mozzarella

Pizza & Wine

A quiet night in called for a low key dinner solution. I’m very much into dough at the moment. I’m not sure why, I just seem to be going through a dough phase. I get a very calming sensation from just kneading dough until its nice and soft, and the yeast makes it seem alive (which technically, it is).

So this was another home made pizza base consisting of:

500 grams flour
2 or so cups of warm water
1 tablespoon of fresh yeast
1 pinch of salt
2 drizzles of olive oil
1 dollop of honey

Combine dry ingredients, and then gradually add the wet ones and mix it all around until its a big ball of doughy goodness.

Leave it to rise in a covered bowl and then punch the air out it a couple of times, til its really malleable.

Then roll it flat, and you’re good to go.

The topping for this pizza was tomato paste, a nice fat slice of eggplant, some sliced “vine ripened” tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella.

Eggplant Pizza

The mozzarella is great… I’d been looking it for a while since having a Mozzarella di Bufala pizza at Pronto’s a while back, but for ages I couldn’t find it, and was told by the nice ladies in Restore that there was a shortage of it… Fortunately for me the buffalo must have been lactating more recently, and I happened to find some at Herdsman Fresh on my last trip.

Apart from being made from buffalo milk, I’m not sure how its different to boccocini… but I like it nonetheless.

The pizza was paired with a wine from my current favourite winemakers. It’s a 2002 Sangiovese/Merlot from Innocent Bystander. Spicey but delicate, with a fruity aftertaste… something different to try.

Innocent Bystander 2002 Sangiovese/Merlot
All in all a great meal to pass the time on a night where all you’re really doing is waiting to go to bed :)

Batch Scratching Bonanza

My new mate and all round nice guy extraordinairre, Beau, of Basic Juice has graciously linked up my first meagre attempt at a wine review.

Beau is by all accounts a very well versed wine lover, and I’m continually impressed as I dig through his site and find reviews for wines I’d never have imagined anyone else outside of Australia would have heard of. He mixes just the right amount of “actual knowledge” with plenty of raw enthusiasm for the drink that brings so much pleasure to so many.

As Molly Meldrum would say… “Do yourself a favour”, and check him out… Anyone who quotes Dr Seuss poems has got to be onto something :)

I think perhaps I’m getting closer to finding the impetus to do the wine appreciation course I’ve been planning on doing for a while now. But then I’ve been planning on getting my scuba diving licence for a while now too…

Maybe i’ll just keep drinking it for now :)

Red Knot – 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (A wine post)

Well after being graciously linked up by Beau on his great wine blog, I thought it was about time I put some effort into writing about some of the wine I drink.

So here is the first effort… A lovely looking bottle of South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon that jumped off the shelf at me while on a mission to retrieve cumin seeds, buffalo mozzarella, and limonata from “Re-store” in Leederville.

Red Knot

It’s from a region of South Australia called Fleurieu, which i’d never heard of, and i really liked the label. Plus I’ve been drinking mainly Shiraz/Grenache/Mouverdre blends recently, so I thought it was time to get back to some of the more robust/in your face/full bodied wines that Australia has become famous for.

Fill me !

According to the wine maker, it should be something like this:

Vintage Note:
Dry conditions throughout the year lowered crop yields and produced concentrated and small berry fruit. Perfect ripening conditions from verasion to harvest resulted in wines of incredible flavor and color.

Tasting Note:
Deep Red. Cassis aromas complex with hints of mint and truffle and enhanced with roasted coffee bean and vanilla American and French oak. A full bodied wine with ripe blackberry fruit and a firm tannin structure. Toasty oak enhances the sweet fruit and lingers enticingly.

Source:
Davey Family Vineyard, McLaren Vale
Hindmarsh Valley, Southern Fleurieu

Blend:
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Bottling:
pH: 3.49
TA: 6.60
ALC: 13.80%

My take on the wine would be definitely a full fruit flavour. Lots of cherry/blackberry flavours hit you in face as soon as you take that first sip, and linger until you’re ready for the next. It’s definitely full bodied. Not the kind of wine that you can drink nonchalantly… It’s big flavoured and makes you sit up and take notice. The subtle nuances and flavours of the wine are lost on me I must admit, and being an avid coffee drinker/roaster, I didn’t pick up on the roasted coffee flavour as desribed in the wine makers notes. I would agree that the sweetness of the wine lingers though… theres not the oaky aftertaste that much of the heavily wooded wines seems to carry with them.

Tryin to get all funky, but not working

All in all I’d say it’s a great wine, not too complex, but a very enjoyable drink.

I’m also loving my new Reidel ‘O’ series, stemless glassware. I’ve broken many a wine glass stem in my time (I think my record is three in one night), and so these are a breath of fresh air. They also look great, and feel great in the hand, and are just the right shape for swirling and bringing out all those luscious red wine aromas… Now if my uncultured nose could only work out what some of them are, i’d be laughing :)

Reidel Stemless