Spanish Sundowner, Swan Valley

Hi everyone,

The Cheese Barrel and Olive Farm Wines are hosting a Spanish Sundowner filled with wine, cheese and tapas on their Property in the Swan Valley on the evening of Saturday March 16th for a cost of $65. Below is the flyer for the event. If you have been wanting to try the wines from Olive Farm Wines or the cheeses from The Cheese Barrel then this would be the perfect time for both.

spanishsundowner

Until next time!

Advertisements

Melba, Melbourne

Hi Everyone,

My last night in Melbourne this month was spent having dinner at Melba Restaurant located in the Langham Hotel. The restaurant was buffet styled, however the food on offer ranged from seafood, to pasta prepared to order, roast station, Indian station, made to order sashimi station to a wide selection of cheeses, salads and cold meats. This link will take you to a sample menu for what could be offered for dinner in the buffet at Melba.

IMG_1537

Their selection of cheese’s reminded me of the cheese platter I had at Quarter on Hay in Perth. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with a sample of a small selection of these for a starter while I eyed off the different buffet stations and planned my dinner.

Selection of cheeses.

Selection of cheeses.

I started at the Roast Station where I had a selection of pork, beef, chicken, lamb, vegetables and a selection of sauces to accompany. The meat was cooked well and the selection available led me to grab a small piece of everything I could so I could try as much of what they had as my stomach would take.

Roasted meats station.

Roasted meats station.

There was a sashimi section where you could select from a range of fresh raw fish to have sushi made for you on the spot. I tend to avoid raw fish and so was a little disappointed I could not try any of the tantalising sushi, which I had seen at other tables in the restaurant.

Seafood.

Seafood.

While I was sampling from the roast station others dining with me had headed off to the Indian station for tandoori chicken, saffron rice and naan cooked to order.

After finishing our first plateful we discovered the pasta station where you saw your pasta being cooked in front of you with ingredients of your choice. I wish I had filmed the guy as he casually created a delicious masterpiece for me all the while conversing with me.

IMG_1538

After we had our fill of pasta we intended to get another plate of food however we wandered past the desert station and didn’t manage to make it any further. The variety of deserts available for selection made for a very tough decision, especially when a chocolate fountain was included – I was in desert heaven!

Deserts galore!

Deserts galore!

Selection of deserts from Melba plus cupcakes from Little Cupcakes.

Selection of deserts from Melba plus cupcakes from Little Cupcakes.

For those who love their seafood then this restaurant is one to check out while you’re in Melbourne. There was also a selection of prawns, oysters, crabs, you name it included in the buffet. I’m not a big fan of shellfish and seafood in general so I passed on this selection however the presentation looked fantastic!

Last was the cocktails that we had over the night. While their wine menu had many interesting options I had a quick flick through the cocktail list and saw an Apple Crumbletini and was instantly sold. We also ordered their Strawberries and Cream cocktail and their Passionfruit Mojito. All three cocktails were delicious and a good way to end our time in Melbourne.

IMG_1529

Apple Crumbetini and Strawberries & Cream

Passionfruit Mojito.

Passionfruit Mojito.

Thoroughly enjoyed the meal and will have to return next time I am in Melbourne so that I can attempt to make it to every single station in the restaurant as well as getting the chance to try a few more of their cocktails which looked very tantalising on the menu. Service was also fantastic and the view over the Yarra River and Melbourne at the sun was setting made for a perfect and relaxing end to a quite hectic trip to Melbourne.

Until next time!

Melba Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Monthly Review: December

Hi everyone,

1. Favourite wine of the month?

With the onset of summer in Perth I have been passing over my usual reds for chilled wines – mainly Sauvignon Blanc Semillon’s and Rose’s.

2. What has been the best value wine of the month?

Olive Farms 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – $25.

3. What has been added to my to-try wine list?

The rest of the wines at Olive Farm, something I will be able to do in the near future when I redeem my christmas gift of a voucher to a Cheese Barrel’s gourmet cheese making class.

4. What restaurants do I want to return to?

After visiting the Swan Valley and the Riverside Restaurant located in the region I would love to return to the Swan Valley to try more wineries and eateries in the area.

5. What was my favourite meal this month?

The Gnocchi I had at The Blue Duck in Cottesloe was to die for! The gnocchi melted in my mouth and the fresh vegetables made for an exciting summer dish.

Gnocchi.

Gnocchi.

6. Upcoming events for next month?

Twilight Hawkers Markets (cuisine from around the globe) – Forrest Place, Perth City 5pm-9pm every Friday into April.

Boat’s annual Cider Festival – Mindarie Marina, Mindarie January 11th-13th.

Fe”BREW”ary FestivitiesIndi Brewary, Mindarie February 1st-28th.

7. Favourite wine packaging?

Jim Barry’s Sauvignon Blanc Semillon won BF over and for doing that I’d say he win’s for favourite packaging of the month!

Wine Labels.

Wine Labels.

8. Best service?

William at Quarter on Hay – review of my meal there will be up soon.

9. Restaurant I am most keen to try next month?

Heading off to Melbourne for a week so a quaint little restaurant with delicious homemade simple food in a side street is something I would love to find.

10. Wine Century Challenge.

Total: 25 varietals.

Favourite = Müller-Thurgau

Until next time!

Halliday Day: Week 10 – Hay Shed Hill Wines

Hi everyone,

Hay Shed Hill Winery is located in Margaret River near the Chocolate Factory. Rated a solid 5 starts by James Halliday, and owned by wine maker Michael Kerrigan since 2006 (in a co-ownership with West Cape Howe Wines) who previously worked for Howard Park Winery.

Hay Shed Hill Winery has 3 different labels. Their basic range is called Pitchfork and their Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Merlot is available at Liquorland but the range also includes a Rose, Chardonnay, Late Harvest White, and Shiraz. Their Premium line consists of a ‘Block Series’ which consists of ‘Block 1’ Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, ‘Block 6’ Chardonnay, ‘Block 2’ Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘Block 8’ Cabernet Franc and ‘Block 10’ Petit Verdot. The last label is one which is a collaboration with West Cape Howe wine maker Gavin Berry which consists of a Great Southern Riesling and a Cabernet Sauvignon which is a combination of Margaret River and Great Southern grapes.

hay_shed_hill_wines_header

I’ve had a meal at the onsite cafe at Hay Shed Hill Winery last summer and it made for such a relaxing afternoon! I ended up sharing their venison chorizo pizza, 4 cheeses pizza, beer batter chips, and a green salad with two others along with a bottle of Kerrigan and Berry’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was this meal which made me end up leaving Hay Shed Hill Wines with a box of wines including some of the 2008 Kerrigan and Berry Cabernet Sauvignon, which I have unfortunately already consumed.

I also had the chance while at the cafe to visit their cellar door and this winery was the first time I was exposed to some uncommon grape varietals. I sampled Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc for the first time. The staff who ran the cellar door at this time were inviting and friendly to talk to, it was a pleasure to have met them.

If you’re in the area I highly recommend this winery not only for their wines but also for their uncomplicated but delicious food!

Until next time!

Swan Valley

Hi everyone,

With the overseas family in town over the weekend that just passed and we decided to take them to the Swan Valley so we could all explore it for the first time together. We only had a few hours in the Swan Valley and many of our visitors wanted to see the Woodbridge House so we ended up only going to two wineries and a nougat factory as my family has a long line of nougat lovers, and then ending our Swan Valley dash a quick late lunch at the restaurant by Woodbridge House.

1st Stop: Houghton’s.

Our first stop was at Houghton’s, as it is one of the most well known Swan Valley wineries and therefore one to show the international tourists. The grounds were spectacular and I will have to return in the future for a picnic there.

Wisdom Sparkling.

Wisdom Sparkling.

At Houghton’s they had a tasting flight of three white wines and three red wines for $3. In the flight we tasted:

Wisdom Pemberton Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay

2012 Wisdom Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc

2009 Wisdom Pemberton Wooded Chardonnay

2010 175th Anniversary Limited Edition Red Blend

2010 Wisdom Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 C.W. Ferguson Cabernet Franc

Red's from tasting flight at Houghton's.

Red’s from tasting flight at Houghton’s.

I didn’t mind the white wines beside’s the Chardonnay, for some reason it did not impress nor appeal to me. The red were quite nice, they showed potential but were still quite young.

I left Houghton’s with a hamper of wines from Moondah Brook as we were not allowed to sample their wines and their Rose looked quite tantalising – we ended up having the Rose with dinner that night and it was a great wine for the summer! A full review of the Rose will be in Sunday’s post.

Moondah Brook Hamper.

Moondah Brook Hamper.

2nd Stop: Mondo Nougat.

We left Houghton’s and headed for Mondo for a quick stop here for some gelato and nougat for the rest of the day as well as a few pieces for them to take back home with them. The Nougat here is gluten and dairy free which is a big plus if you or any one you know who loves nougat has these alleges! Also in the shop was the cute Mini Cooper pictures below, not sure if I could drive something like this as it would continually make me hungry!

Mondo Mini Cooper.

Mondo Mini Cooper.

3rd Stop: Cheese Barrel and Olive Farm Wines

We ended up deciding that the Olive Farm would be our last stop before lunch as we heard it had the Cheese Barrel next door and being greeks anything with ‘olive’ in the titled would gamer our attention! The driveway to the Cheese Barrel and the cellar door for Olive Farm Wines was straight through the middle of the vines and with the blue skies that we had this past weekend it was photo-op worth.

Arriving at Olive Farm Wines and Cheese Barrel - wonderful driveway!

Arriving at Olive Farm Wines and Cheese Barrel – wonderful driveway!

Cheese Barrel Sign.

Cheese Barrel Sign.

Cute and unique seating at the cheese Barrel.

Cute and unique seating at the cheese Barrel.

We didn’t stay too long at the Cheese Barrel but we did grab a few different cheeses of which I have had some and they were interesting, the European cheeses were a lot stronger than the Australian cheeses I have tried in the past. Definitely will be visiting this place again when I head up to the Swan valley as the wine barrel tables were adorable and the view from the elevated location of the cheese barrel over the back of the property made for a relaxing location for a cheesy Sunday lunch.

Sign for Olive Farm Wines.

Sign for Olive Farm Wines.

After checking out the Cheese Barrel we walked over to the cellar door for the Olive Farm Winery and found the counter at the cellar door packed with people doing tastings – a good sign when you know nothing about the winery besides it being the first winery planted in the region.

At the cellar door I sampled:

Olivine Brut

2011 Dry Verdelho

2012 Chenin Blanc

2012 Viognier

2012 Rose (sweetish)

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Grenache Shiraz

2007 Shiraz

Liqueur Muscat

Liqueur Verdelho

Stari (fortified)

My favourites from what I tasted was the dry Verdelho, Viognier, Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Shiraz and all the Liqueurs were delightful also. I ended up leaving with a bottle of the Rose, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon and mum also bough a bottle of the Liquer Verdelho and we were recommended to try it over a quality vanilla ice-cream and this is something I am dying to try after hearing of it!

I will be back to try the rest of their wines for sure! And the two guys who were flat out at the counter of the cellar door were a delight to talk to and did a good job of looking after all the people who wanted to try their wines. Also the olives they had for tasting while they got back to you were delicious and well worth a visit just for their home-made marinade!

4th Stop: Woodbridge House and Riverside Restaurant

The portions were more than generous at the Riverside Restaurant. And the flavour combinations were interesting and in the case of the Spinach Salad they were delightful! The sweet balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the salad that accompanied my Frittata was not the right dressing for my liking but other than that I could not fault the food. The service from both the owner and her staff at the restaurant was friendly and they went over and above what was needed to look after us even though we came in right at the end of their lunch service. I highly recommend the staff and food at Riverside!

Sweet Potato Frittata with Smoked Salmon.

Sweet Potato Frittata with Smoked Salmon.

Tasting plate of the day.

Tasting plate of the day.

Spinach Salad.

Spinach Salad.

This was a wonderful introduction to the region and I will be back checking out the wineries over this summer for sure!

Until next time!

Wino 101: Christmas Lunch/Dinner Wines (Australian Summer Edition).

Hi everyone,

While the northern hemisphere is rugging up for a cold winter in Australia we will be getting our barbecues and bathers out in expectation of a hot and sunny Christmas Day. This post will hopefully be a good guide for you, whether you are supplying a lunch or dinner at your place of even just bringing a bottle of wine to wherever you end up on the festive occasion. I have broken the wine’s down into different categories of food that is often served in Australia on Christmas Day, along with some personal favourites.

Appetisers:

A nice glass of bubbly is a good way to start off your Christmas Day of feasting.

BBQ:

Consider lighter to medium bodied red wine or an acidic and aromatic white wine or dry Rose will pair across the range of foods you can barbecue. When pairing wine with barbecue you want to keep the wine simple and uncomplicated to match the simple flavouring and styling of food that you would barbecue.

Seafood:

When it comes to seafood you want to pair it with a light wine which has a nice degree of acidity behind it so that you really get the best flavours out of pairing it with the seafood. Look for a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, a fruity and crisp Pinot Grigio/Gris or a dry Rose.

Roast Lamb/Beef:

Lamb and Beef being  darker and more dense meats will need a wine with more structure and depth in it so that both the wine and the food will compliment each other rather than one overpowering the other. You will also need to take the sauce(s) you will be using into account as their richness will also impact upon which wine is your best option.

For the meat: a red wine like a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon that has seen some age in the bottle as well as having had the chance to breath either in a decanter or by opening the bottle before serving. Also if it is a very hot day think about popping your bottle of red into the fridge for about 15 minutes before serving so that thee wine will be at it’s optimum serving temperature while you eat your meal (15-20C). The wine will also develop over the course of the meal as it warms and you will see it’s aroma’s and taste evolve along with your meal.

Roast Chicken:

A roast chicken being a lighter meat allows you to pair a white or red wine with it, depending upon what seasoning and sauces you. For a roast with a light lemon seasoning look for a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Chenin Blanc or continue with the bubbles.

Roast Pork:

Less tannic reds are preferred when pairing with roast pork as it is a lighter meat than Beef and Lamb and due to that needs to be paired with a more softer wine that still has enough body to pair with the meat. Look for a red blend that contains Merlot or Viognier to soften the wine.

Cheese/Fruit:

Soft cheese = eg. Camembert and Brie

Consider white or sparkling wines, so as to not overpower the softer textures and flavours of the wine, however if you are daring a full bodied dry red is said to also pair nicely due to it’s contrasting texture and flavour.

Hard cheese = eg. Cheddar and Parmesan.

Consider red wines for a stronger tasting cheese otherwise if the cheese is milder in flavour and medium-to-hard texture you can then look into pairing it with a fortified, sparkling or a full bodied white wine.

Eye cheese = ed. Edam, Gouda, Havarti and Swiss-styled cheese.

Consider a full bodied white wine, medium bodied red wine or a sweeter desert or fortified wine to play best with the softer textures of the wine and the stronger flavours found in some of these cheeses.

Blue cheese = eg. Gorgonzola and Danish Blue.

generally sweeter and fortified wines do better with blue cheese, however if it is a mild blue cheese you can possibly pair it with a softer red wine. Look for a wine which is aromatic but sweet to give you the best contrast with the blue cheese.

Fruit: consider aromatic and/or sweeter wines.

Desert:

Fortified, sweet still and sweet sparkling wines would go amazing with desert.

Until next time!