Shiraz Cab and a new cookbook

So on Saturday we wandered down to Hawthorn and Readings bookshop and after an hour or so we emerged with a new cookbook Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. Our Sunday tradition is that my son and I cook dinner together so Sunday morning was spent going through the book to find something yummy. Actually to be fair it was more of deciding which of the many yummys we were actually going to cook. After sadly noting that the fridge was bare of lamb shanks and chicken we decided upon a salmon main and a salad.

The book is lovely and one of its upsides is it will force us to travel far afield in search of ingredients we haven’t tried before. Our chosen recipes with sumac, pomegranate and dried rose petals sounded deliciously exotic. However dried rose petals was a bridge too far for a Sunday evening shop so we had to do a poor substitute and the salmon dish did suffer for it. Luckily our local supermarket Maxis was able to provide pomegranates and the Shirazi salad was beyond delicious.`

Shirazi Salad

Serving 4-6


  • 1 cucumber
  • 6 ripe vine tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • olive oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 heaped tsp of sumac
  • 200g pomegranate seeds


  • Dice the cucumbers and the tomatoes.
  • Add them to the salad bowl
  • Finely dice the red onions and add them to the salad bowl
  • Drizzle olive oil over the ingredients, season with sea salt and black pepper
  • Add the lemon juice and mix.
  • Sprinkle over the sumac and the pomegranate seeds, pop into the refrigerator and served chilled

The Tokar Estate was fair but didn’t quite match up to the brilliance of the salad.
Tokar Estate Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2011, $23, 7/10

I’m loving this cookbook so far and I’m looking forward to trying more recipes! I see Lamb Shanks in my future.


On Holidays with Oysters and Sparkling

IMG_2502Some days all that you need is Oysters Kirkpatrick and a nice sparkling. This was one of those days and Blue Pyrenees Luna was the sparkling.

Blue Pyrenees Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Pyrenees AUS, NV, $23, 7/10


Blue Pyrenees Winery

Wine Tasting at Squitchy Lane

Squitchy Lane Winery

Squitchy Lane Winery – Our host Rob in action.

On a lovely sunny Sunday with nothing but a couple of friends and a well stocked picnic we ventured forth to the perils of the Yarra Valley. The aim of this trip was Squitchy Lane winery.

Squitchy Lane Winery

Squitchy Lane Winery with Mike at the old school cellar door.

The last time we visited the wine tasting room were still under construction and the cellar door was a trestle table out the front.

This time with the tasting room fully completed we ventured inside to the decidedly more solid bar to find a combination of white and red on tasting ranging from a Fume Blanc to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Missing from the tasting was their SQL label which they have retired to focus on a smaller range of wines.

After much deliberation…

  1. Squitchy Lane Fume Blanc, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $32, 7/10
  2. Squitchy Lane Chardonnay, Yarra Valley AUS, 2012, $34, 7/10
  3. Squitchy Lane Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $35, 8/10
  4. Squitchy Lane Cabernet Merlot, Yarra Valley AUS, 2010, $26, 7/10
  5. Squitchy Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley AUS, 2012, $35, 8/10
  6. Squitchy Lane Peter's Block Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $55, 9/10

The award winning wine for the day was the Peter’s Block Pinot Noir which showed excellent Pinosity, which became the word of the day.

The standard Pinot followed us home that night and performed stirling service matched with our homemade tomato chilli cream prawns.

Squitchy Lane Winery Website

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From @Squitchyman Darth Pinot

Mac Forbes tasting at Olinda Cellars

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Friday Night wine tasting at Olinda Cellars, and an offer was a selection of wines from Mac Forbes of the Yarra Valley. Having previously tasted and loved the Mac Forbes Rs 16 Riesling I was very keen to try others in the range.
As an added bonus the wine maker himself, Mac, was there to talk us through his wines, his winemaking and the philosophy behind it.

The wines on offer from Mac Forbes included:

  1. Mac Forbes Rs16 Riesling, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $32, 9/10
  2. Mac Forbes Chardonnay, Yarra Valley AUS, 2012, $34, 7/10
  3. Mac Forbes Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $32, 8/10
  4. Mac Forbes Gruyere Syrah, Yarra Valley AUS, 2010, $36, 7/10
  5. Mac Forbes Hugh Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Yarra Valley AUS, 2011, $56, 9/10
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Mac, winemaker for Mac Forbes ,is in the foreground. Ross the proprietor of Olinda Cellars is in the background

There were two stand-outs, the Rs16 Rielsing which we both loved, picked early then monitored during fermentation until it hit their desired sugar levels. Just a delightful sweet flavour filled Riesling.
The other was the Hugh, a sophisticated balanced Yarra Valley Cab Sauv, with a nod at the great Bordeaux wines, and with a cellaring time that Mac assured us should be in excess of 20 years.


Duck Pizza and aged NZ Pinot

Duck Pizza with Green Tomato, Cardamom and Ginger Jam

Duck Pizza with Green Tomato, Cardamom and Ginger Jam

Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck.
Now that that is out of the way.. When we were in Adelaide we got to know a brilliant organic pizza restaurant called Good Life Pizza and while we were renovating our house we got to know the staff and the menu there extremely well. One of the dishes we have made an effort to recreate is their Duck Pizza. It should be world famous and we are doing our part in bringing it to its earned glory.

Pizza such as this needs to be shared, however with pizza such as this you can’t invite just any old riff raff, so after much deliberation we invited two dear friends of ours who just happened to have a pair of bottles of aged Carrick Central Otago NZ Pinot Noir. It was a hard decision but at heart we are softies and we let them come along with their wine.

Wine List

  1. Carrick Pinot Noir, Central Otago NZ, 2006, $35, 8/10
  2. Carrick Pinot Noir, Central Otago NZ, 2005, $35, 7/10

Recipe: Green Tomato, Cardamom and Ginger Jam


  • 2kg green tomatoes
  • 4 1/3 cups superfine sugar
  • Juice (and zest) of two small lemons
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely minced


Cut tomatoes into wedges. Remove juice, seeds and the white center parts, then roughly chop the remaining tomato flesh.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato pieces, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to macerate.
The next day, pour the tomato mixture into a preserving pan together with the cardamom and ginger (if you don’t have a preserving pan, a wide heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan will do just as well – I used my big Lagostina saute pan, and it worked a treat). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight once more.
The third day, return the mixture to the preserving pan and bring to a boil, skimming if necessary. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes, check the set – if it’s still quite runny, continue cooking, checking the set every 2-3 minutes until it reaches the proper consistency. Remove the cardamom pods, then pour jam into sterilized jars immediately and seal (or for small batches, just refrigerate).

Sourced from Crumb Blog

For More Information

Good Life Pizza

Movida-Rustica Spanish Tapas and Rockford Wines

Movida Rustica

Movida Rustica

 Dinner Party Aphorisms

Dinner parties give rise to a number of aphorisms, here are a couple

  • Dinner parties are a wonderful excuse to find out what is lurking in the bottom of the cellar.

They are the greatest excuse to bring out that bottle of aged yumminess and share it with an appreciative audience. Of course to properly choose which of the denizens of the cellar will come into the light you need to know what meal it is going with.

Which leads to the second of our aphorisms…

  • Dinner parties are a wonderful reason to try out a new cookbook.

A captive and willing audience and a brand new cookbook, a great combination!

For our cookbook we had recently purchased “Movida Rustica” by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish, Spanish Traditions and Recipes. It is a beautiful book in itself, as well as a great cookbook. and served as the starting point for our dinner party planning.


Tapas was the theme and we had a couple of dishes in the book that had to make it onto the table. After much deliberation our final menu consisted of:

  1. Adobo de Pollo
    • Chicken Skewers marinated with Paprika and Oregano
  2. Picadillo de Atun
    • Pan-fried tuna with Smoky Paprika
  3. Churrasco
    • Grilled Pork Loin, with sides of Salsa Verde and Salsa de Piquillo
  4. Arroz con Trompetas de la Muerte
    • Rice with Mild Mushrooms
Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2005

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2005

Naturally a menu like that needs some quality wine to match it…

Wine List

And to go with it some aged red wines ferreted out from the bottom of the cellar/wardrobe in the back room, a pair of Shiraz’s

  1. Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa AUS, 2003, $35, 9/10
  2. Rockford Black Sparkling Shiraz, Barossa AUS, 2002, $35, 9/10

Recipe: Adobe de Pollo

Serving size: Makes 12 tapas, or 6 portions


  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) skinless chicken
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) virgin olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Thread the chicken meat onto skewers. Heat a barbecue plate to high. Cook the chicken skewers for 5 minutes, or until coAllow to cool slightly then serve.


For More Information

Movida Rustica can be found at:
Movida Rustica:Spanish Traditions & Recipes
Rockford Wines
Rockford Wines, Barossa Valley AUS

Winetasting at Cape Jaffa


On a holiday in South Australia on the Great Ocean Road we revisited one of those lovely off the beaten track winery finds.

In this case Cape Jaffa Wines on the Limestone Coast, which we had visited a number of years earlier, and now returned to renew our acquaintance.
The previous trip we had been passing through on a Great Ocean Road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, this time we were spending a week based at Robe in perfect visiting distance of Cape Jaffa.

The winery itself is tucked away off the Southern Ports Highway in a gentle rolling grazing district. The cellar door is a lovely rock building situated on a rise with views out over the countryside. Outside are picnicking and bbq facilities while inside on the summer days we visited was cool and inviting.

The wine list was 10 wines long on the day we dropped by with an even mix of white and red, with half of the wines being certified biodynamic. The quality overall is high, from 7 to 8 on our scale, with the stand out being the La Lune Shiraz. As always our budget couldn’t meet our tastebuds however we still headed off with a 1/2 dozen mix, and the usual regret a year later that we should have bought more.

On our days tasting at Cape Jaffa wines averaged 7 out of 10

Highlights included:

  • Cape Jaffa La Lune Shiraz, Limestone Coast, 2010, $45, 8/10
  • Cape Jaffa Pinot Gris, 2011, $24, 8/10
  • Cape Jaffa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, $24, 7/10

Cape Jaffa Wines Website

The review list for Cape Jaffa

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Tasting Night at Olinda Cellars

Deep in the hills outside Melbourne lies the township of Olinda and there you will find an excellent wineshop by the name of Olinda Cellars. We have been going there for a while now of a Friday Night to purchase from their excellent selection an end of week beer and a Friday Night Pinot to have with dinner. So when I heard they were doing a wine-tasting, and it was Pinot it wasn’t a particularly hard decision. And since it was Friday night after a long week there could only be one response. “What Time?”

olinda 2

So 10 past 5 sees me wandering in the door to be greeted by 6 bottles of Pinot Noir ranging from $20 to $40, and for those not of the red dispensation a range of chardonnay was also on offer.

Our hosts, Ross and Jenny, started us off with a tipple from the Nolan Winery priced at $20 and we continued from there.

Highlights included:

  • 2012 Nolan Pinot Noir,Yarra Valley AUS , $20 7/10
    • A good quaffing Pinot, especially at the price.
  • 2012 Lansdowne Vineyard Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills AUS, $40 8/10
    • A big Pinot
  • 2012 Brownes Block Pinot Noir, Kilmore AUS, $40 8/10
    • This needs food, specifically a big steak, although duck would work equally well.

After the Pinot’s I decided to try one of the chardonnay’s, specifically the one to which one of our fellow samplers had let out a little ‘wow’. Oh, well that was yummy, one of the tastiest chards I have had. Noting of course that my exposure is limited. However at $60 a bottle I don’t think we will be purchasing a large number of them

  • 2012 Golden Ball La-Vas Chardonnay, Beechworth AUS, $60 8/10
    • Close to the first Chardonnay I would happily drink a bottle of, light and fresh.

Tastings at Olinda Cellars

Tastings are Friday Nights 5-8pm, occasionally a small charge may apply.
Olinda Cellars

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Wine tasting at Port Philip Estate


The second winery on our trip down to Mornington Peninsula outside Melbourne was Port Philip estate. The cellar door is a rather spectacular affair, with a curving wall hiding the winery from casual view, whereupon stepping through the solid wood door the wide vista of Port Philip bay unrolls itself before you. An truly lovely office from which to work, especially on a sunny clear day such as when we visited.

We worked our way through their wine list, even letting our hostess convince us to try the chardonnay. Yes it was chardonnay which is not our favourite grape, however she made up to us by offering us a taste of one of their single vineyard Pinot’s, the 2011 ‘Meres’, It was a lovely Pinot, light on the tongue and went down well. Alas it was totally outclassed when she presented us with a taste of the Mere’s sibling ‘Ferrous’. Again 2011 vintage but otherwise completely different, a deep rich Pinot Noir that had you reaching for the bottle while oohing and aahing.


Highlights included:

  • 2013 Port Philip Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $24, silky smooth. 8/10
  • 2012 Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir, $48 big pinot, rich flavour and will appear on the Friday Night Pinot list. 8/10
  • 2011 Kooyong Estate Single Vineyard “Ferrous” Pinot Noir, $75,  a magnificent Pinot that deserves its high price. 9/10

DSC_8100Hiding out the back was a 2010 Meres Pinot Noir, described by our host as ‘Sex on Toast. I’m not entirely sure what that means however it sounded delicious. If anyone tries it please let us know!

And for dinner, local cheeses, pate’s and the most awesome ciabata from the red hill epicurean, with a dash of wine.

Port Philip Estate Winery website

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Wine tasting at Montalto


Montalto Restaurant. Image ©Montalto

In late November we decided to take a weekends break from Melbourne down the Mornington Peninsula to the seaside village of Sorrento.
The Mornington Peninsula is a popular wine region with a large number of wineries dotted amongst the hills so as we headed down through Redhill we picked one at random for lunch.

Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove was not one we had previously visited and we were not familiar with their wines. As we had arrived  just before lunch we headed to the cellar door to pick something to go with our meal.


The wine list was replete with reds and whites across a variety of styles with two ranges: ‘Pennon Hill’ and Montalto ‘Estate’ wines. Following the guidance of our trusty tasting lad we started at the whites and wandered on down (up?) through their tasting list. Our scored ranged from 6 to 9 across the range, with the poor Chardonnay grape again failing to impress us while the Estate Riesling and Pinot Noir along with the Pennon Hill Shiraz more than making up for any lack in the Chardonnay.

Highlights included:

  • 2013 Montalto ‘Estate’ Riesling, great value at $25, tart, not too sweet, dry, delicious. 8/10
  • 2012 Montalto ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir, $48 lots of promise, Big Pinot, wine notes suggested cellaring up to 8 years and it will get great with age. 8/10
  • 2012 Pennon Hill Shiraz, $30, soft Shiraz lots of flavour, doesn’t beat you round the tongue like a Barossa Shiraz. 8/10

Then with lunch we had a taste of the Merricks Block single vineyard Pinot Noir. oh yum

  • 2012 ‘Merricks Block’ Single Vineyard Pnot Noir, $65, a delicious Pinot, I’d say more but at that point my wife disappeared with the rest of the glass. 9/10

Both our lunches were delicious, however my Rabbit terrine, which the chefs were preparing on our way in, definitely trumped the scallops as well as matching my glass of Pinot Noir. We had chosen the ‘small plate’ offerings from the menu to leave room for dessert, although the scallops were more an ‘entree’ serve,  but who cares for there was space and energy for a cheese platter.

After lunch a wander down through their vegetable gardens included a chat with their gardener and later a taste of their fresh raspberries. Onwards to the sculpture garden was a relaxing walk to end a lovely afternoon.

montalto garden

Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove
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