Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Quick Sip - Rockford Local Growers Semillion 2006 - August 2014

Deep golden yellow in colour as predicted by its' maker, former winemaker - proprietor Robert O'Callaghan on the label - "time will massage into a slippery yellow wine that just invites itself to lunch".

While rattling the Tuesday night pans on a crisp pre-Spring evening, lemon curd and orange marmalade leap from the nose. The first sip is like that sneaky Sunday morning croissant, with extra butter and a swathe of 100% citrus fruit conserve.

A smooth acid line sinks into a lingering marmalade on toast finish.

Current vintage is the 2010 ($20.50 at the cellar door). Well worth picking your year, grabbing a case and then hiding it from prying fingers for the best part of a decade. 

Certainly perked up the mid-week dinner routine!

Region: Barossa
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Cork
Price: $18 but rare as hens teeth
Tasted: August 2014

Rating: 4.5 glasses
Food Match: Mildly spiced, home made Mexican pie with avocado.


Munooshi Cafe - East End, Adelaide - August 2014

The glorious heritage buildings of Adelaide's east end, overlooking the parklands, is a most glamourous location for a humble street food. 

Sunny East Tce location. Photo: Willunga Wino

What a pleasure to sit at a table in the sun, and enjoy friendly table service and hospitality from Munooshi Cafe - a first for Adelaide, making available to a ready audience the ubiquitous Middle Eastern breakfast food.

Munooshi is also known as manoosh, and manosha. The Middle Eastern street food has taken the eastern states by storm, with a Sydney Manoosh cafe taking out the Menulog Most Popular Takeaway Award 2014.

Bright, airy & clean, tastefully decorated with middle eastern artifacts, and vases of daisies long the windowsills. There is an upstairs dining room to take your tea & manoosh with a view of the parklands, and a few tables on the ground floor also by a flower-lined casement windows. 

Deliciously fresh ingredients. Photo: Willunga Wino

This is a family operation, owned and run by the Osman family, with care taken to explain the menu with a smile, friendly table service, and a sparkling clean premises. 

Tasty menu. Photo: Willunga Wino

The matriarchs of the family roll the manoosh dough to order through a machine similar to a pasta roller into the Munooshi Cafe's siganture oval shape, and almost half centimetre thickness. This is then cooked immediately giving it a pillowy soft texture, flecked with golden brown. See this video for more of the action.

Welcoming shopfront. Photo: Willunga Wino

Our pot of Arabic tea arrives first ($4.90, Small), with a helpful suggestion to pour quickly if we don't like out tea too strong. The pot is cute, red and bubble shaped with a matching heatproof mat to sit on, and we also have clear latte glasses to enjoy our tea in and judge the strength to match our tastes. It is tasty with mint and hint of cardamon in a black tea base. 

Soon after come our manoosh, we opted for the one with veggies, zataar and labni (labne) $7.90.

Zataar Labni Manoosh $7.90. Photo: Willunga Wino

The bread is lovely and soft, the filling fresh and healthy, with crunch and creaminess from the yogurt cheese. 

On request, we were also able to order a side serve of felafel. Crispy and nutty, they were served with hommous and labne. $4.

Felafel side special request $4. Photo: Willunga Wino

While not as punchy in flavour as their more grungy, Western Sydney suburb counterparts (like Mina Bakery) this is an easy entry interpretation. If you opt for take away, adding a splash of lemon and a sprinkle of salt would lift the flavours, and five minutes in the oven to reheat should crisp up the exterior nicely for that authentic wood-oven-fresh touch.

Rating : 3.5 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu: Middle eastern style flatbreads and pizzas.
Meal Size: From snacks to full meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Welcoming, bright, airy, clean.
Standout Dish: Zataar with veggies & labne ($7.90).
Service: Friendly, table service.
Online Booking: No bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:

36 East Terrace, 
Adelaide 5000
Tel No: (08) 8223 5595
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am - 3.30pm, Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am - 5pm.
Access: There is metered street parking on Grenfell St and East Terrace St.

Munooshi Cafe on Urbanspoon


Monday, 25 August 2014

Mina Bakery - Granville, Sydney - August 2014

Move over banh mi - there's a new (old) bread-based meal in town.

The first time I tried manoosh was during the regular Tuesday morning tea club at the south-west Sydney council I worked at. Little rounds of lebanese type bread stuffed full of dried herbs, spring onion, olives and tomatoes were on a platter, along with the more familiar chesse cubes, crackers, dips and lamingtons.

Never one to hold back, I tried it.

A revelation.

Softer than regular lebanese bread, freshly baked pita is the base. This is sprinkled with zataar - the middle eastern version of Egyption dukkah, with more oregano and the lemony kick of sumac. What results is a really delicious flatbread, known as zataar or oregano manoosh. ($1.50)

There are many other varieties of manoosh, including cheese which is a haloumi type squeaky cheese baked on top of the flatbread base, and a spicy mince meat. Any of these base varieties are offered with veggies, and labne or yogurt.

Delicious manoush from Mina. Photo: Willunga Wino

Manoosh is traditionally a breakfast food in middle eastern countries. Manoosh bakeries in Sydney tend to opern early and stay open late, making it handy for a snack or meal at any time of day. There are many manoosh bakeries in the Auburn, Granville, Lakemba, Belmore and Lidcombe areas, extending out through Bankstown. Everyone has a favourite - at the council it was one in Belmore. Such bakeries are less common in Adelaide, and I'm yet to find one like the ones I used to frequent in south west Sydney.

I like to visit Mina Bakery which is always welcoming, with your manoosh prepared fresh before your eyes and breads being baked fresh constantly throughout the day in the huge brick oven. It is a tiny shopfront, with the bakery oven and kneading workstations extending far back into the premises. There are two casual tables inside, and a few outside too, but most people opt for take away. While you wait there are interesting drinks to look at in the cabinet as well as the baking in action behind the counter.

My favourite is the oregano with veggies. ($3.50) At Mina, it is filled with tomato, olives and capsicum.

The spinach is also delicious. At Mina, it is finely chopped with onion and lots of lemony sumac, then folded inside the flatbread into a triange. ($3.)  A hint of nutmeg is in the taste. Spinach & feta is another variation.

Great party or finger food. Photo: Willunga Wino

The flavours are punchy and strong, herbs, saltiness, lemon, the bread lightly crunchy outside, soft & warm inside.

Whilst I often devour my manoosh still warm & fresh from the oven as soon as it is in my hands, sometimes I still slice it into little rounds, and remember my first taste at the council ten years ago.

Rating : 4 Glasses 
Price: $
Menu: Middle eastern style flatbreads and pizzas.
Meal Size: From snacks to full meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Hole-in-the-wall, casual.
Standout Dish:Oregano with veggies ($3.50), Spinach ($3).
Service: Friendly.
Online Booking: No bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:

32 South St, 
Granville NSW 2142
Tel No: (02) 9897 5357
Opening Hours: 6am - 4pm 7days.
Access: There is street parking or a free off-street car park a 2 min walk away on the corner of Railway parade & Mary St.

Mina Bakery on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 23 August 2014

SALA in McLaren Vale Wineries - McLaren Vale - August 2014

Late winter brings many joys to McLaren Vale. 

Almond trees spring to life with white petals blanketing the ground like confetti. Soursobs create fields of green and yellow. Budburst amongst the vines.

And, local outposts of the annual South Australian Living Artists Festival - SALA.  SALA runs in 2014 from 1-24 August - so be quick there is just one day left!

A magnificent day trip can be had by combining two things this region does so well, art and wine. Here is one suggested itinerary for a lovely, arty, winey day out & about in McLaren Vale.

First stop, all the activity and gorgeousness to come requires fortification. Time for a snack / lunch. Head for Port Willunga Beach, by way of Old Aldinga. Here you can stop in for a gourmet country pie, pasty, sandwich, cake (the vegan vanilla slice is legendary for a reason) coffee and award winning sourdough, at Home Grain Bakery. An added bonus is service with a smile. Grab it to go and trundle on the few minutes down Port Rd to Port Willunga.

...with a pie in hand! Photo: Willunga Wino

Next, take a quick walk on the beach at Port Willunga, pie in hand. Visit the most photographed feature of the Fleurieu, the old jetty. Play hide & seek in the old fishermen caves. For the energetic, take the clifftop walk to the north of the beach. Or explore the ruins of the old police house on the path perpendicular back from the centre of the beach.

Looking south along Port Willunga Beach. Photo: Willunga Wino

Nature's beauty in pastry and coastline will by now have put you in the mood to admire some fine art. Hardy's Tintara winery on Main Rd McLaren Vale is a short 10 minute drive away. Housed in one of the historic buildings onsite is the exhibit called "The Pleasure of All Things". A market is held in conjunction with the display of works on the weekend. 

Seaweed sculpture. Photo: Willunga Wino

A selection of beautiful metal sculptures are installed on the lawns, in the shade of huge eucalypt trees, and backing on to the rolling hills of a vineyard.

Falling eucalyptus leaf sculpture. Photo: Willunga Wino

Falling eucalypus leaf sculpture. Photo: Willunga Wino

Butterfly sculpture. Photo: Willunga Wino

Moving into the building, there are a variety of different media used in the artworks. Some are sculptures, jewelry, textiles, landscapes, modern art, and glassware. Quite a variety in one place and plenty to interest anybody. One that took my eye was this glass blown heart, presented on a silver platter. It was near a number of other glass sculptures musing on the theme of love.

Amazing glass heart sculpture. Photo: Willunga Wino

Main street makes way into vineyards within a few hundred metres. Close by is Maxwells, which is hosting an outdoor sculpture exhibit for SALA. 

Welcome wagon. Photo: Willunga Wino

The animal sculptures particularly caught my eye - and stole my heart. They were quite unique as they were life sized and from a distance, looked real! 

Grazing sheep sculptures. Photo: Willunga Wino

Life sized horse. Photo: Willunga Wino

Nest of eggs. Photo: Willunga Wino

Barbed wire "Wild Thing" sculpture. Photo: Willunga Wino

Sit Ubu, Sit. Good Dog. Photo: Willunga Wino

There are two wine-dogs at Maxwell's - German Short Haired Pointers - making the dog sculptures very appropriate.

Dogs - stay out of the garden! Photo: Willunga Wino

Should be almost enough. Photo: Willunga Wino

You may even be lucky enough to see a sculpture of the more mechanical kind like we did. 

Work of art. Photo: Willunga Wino

Ellen St restaurant onsite at Maxwell's has a new menu and new chef, and great reviews. Their grenache is also well worth stopping to taste.

Newly opened cellar door S.C Pannell is high on a hill offering great views over the rolling vineyards. 

Quite a view. Photo: Willunga WIno

We sampled the grenache blends that were all quite different and great to taste and compare.

Tinto blend. Photo: Willunga Wino

A wonderful day of art, nature, and beauty in McLaren Vale.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wendouree Wine Dinner - Star of Greece, Port Willunga - June 2014

Bundled in jackets, they came.

Wild weather at beautiful Port Willunga. Photo: Willunga Wino

Hair danced in the fierce onshore blast, as the rain slammed sideways into the whistling window panes, the shining Star of Greece shone like a beacon.

Beacon in the cold. Photo: Willunga Wino

Within, a mecca for wine folk and the wine inclined. A Wendouree dinner to end all dinners!

Four courses, nine Wendouree wines, Winter, seaside.

Dressed in her finest whites, Star of Greece took us for a final spin around the dance floor before closing for a month to have a makeover in time for swimsuit season. 

Wistful artworks remind us of summertime. 

Fishing for a dream. Photo: Willunga Wino

Flickering candlelight sets the mood. 

Flickering candlelight. Photo: Willunga Wino

Communal tables are laid beautifully with linens and name cards make seating simple. 

So many Robert Mack's. Photo: Willunga Wino

An enviable line up of wines were stacked at the door drawing lustful glances from the lively crowd. 

Wendouree is a winery shrouded in tales of yore. No cellar door, mail order only, and a mailing list you can get on only by waiting patiently for other members to drop out -which is usually by dropping off the twig. Some of the best Shiraz, Cab, and Malbec comes from this Clare Valley ingenue. Established in 1895, tonight we have the opportunity to sample the renowned centenary wine - the flagship 1995 Shiraz. The wines were all opened and double decanted at 1pm, ready for the dinner to commence at 7pm.

Delicious & rare line up. Photo: Willunga Wino

Owners Doug Govan and Nikki Seymour-Smith greet us warmly, and soon invite us to take our seats.

The moment of anticipation. Photo: Willunga Wino

As soon as we are seated, the accomplished waitstaff brought house-made breads, house churned butter, and local olive oil to dip. I opt for the sweet fig & walnut bread, but there is also sourdough and rye. 

House made bread. Photo: Willunga Wino

Black sesame wafers with avocado foam and caviar are brought out on slate platters as our amuse bouche. 

Tasty bite-sized amuse. Photo: Willunga Wino

Tonight is maitre'd Rachael's last, having worked for Doug & Nikki for fifteen years, bound for new challenges at the Wentworth Hotel in Adelaide. Over the evening we were really impressed by her and the whole team's impeccable and personalised service. The first three wines were poured with exacting precision to ensure there was enough, for all.

Democracy for Wendouree. Photo: Willunga WIno

Seared yellowfin tuna was flavoured with allspice, and served with smoked Dutch Cream potatoes, and an egg yolk powder.

Tuna starter. Photo: Willunga Wino

My vegetarian version was simply called a "mixed vegetarian plate". Understatement of the century. Tiny new potatoes were boiled with their skin on, carved into perfect semicircles, and then hot smoked. Sublime. Served with naturally sweet, local and in season beetroot, and umami egg yolk powder.

Smoked new potato, beets, yolk. Photo: Willunga WIno

Matched with this course were the 2000 Shiraz / Malbec, the 2005 Shiraz / Malbec, and the 2010 Shiraz / Malbec. Three very different wines.

The 2000 Shiraz / Malbec has a eucalyptol (minty) nose and is a Clare classic, weighing in at 13.2% alcohol. Like it's 2005 counterpart, also bottled under cork, it must have been picked earlier to retain it's acid line. 

Y2K Shiraz Malbec. Photo: Willunga Wino

The 05 was richer, plusher, with more dark fruit. 

The 2010 was my pick, nice leathery nose with a hint of mint slice, and a softer, plush palate, with a 14.2% alcohol level.

2010 Shiraz Malbec. Photo: Willunga Wino

At this point, we were offered our first "mystery wine".  

Musk, violets and darker plum on the nose, this clean & true number turned out to be Doug Govan's own 2011 Rudderless Mataro.

Third course was introduced as "Beef & Chips", but was much more than that. Clare Valley beef eye fillet, was served with black truffle and bone marrow.

Clare Valley beef with black truffle. Photo: Willunga Wino

My vegetarian option was a leek and confit potato soup, with parmesan crisp, mustard oil  and mustard leaves. Silky and with slightly Indian flavours of fennel and peppery mustard. Certainly not an ordinary potato soup.

Confit potato soup. Photo: Willunga Wino

This course was served with the 1995 Shiraz, the 2000 Shiraz, and the 2005 Shiraz. These were smoother than the bitey Shiraz Mataro's, and are some of the best I've tried. All under cork, t
he 1995 was remarkably fresh, with mint on the nose. The 2000 has been long sold out. The 2005 also had a hit of mint on the nose. 

Shiraz flight. Photo: Willunga Wino

Mystery wine number two was picked by Mr Wino as a local, 2012 Shiraz. Another Rudderless! Sneaky!

Fourth course, introduced as "Lamb & Veggies", was rack of Saltbush Lamb, port poached prunes and rosemary.

Saltbush fed lamb. Photo: Willunga Wino

My vegetarian option was a rich mixed mushroom and tallegio risotto with truffle and tarragon. Oyster and swiss brown mushrooms made a meaty, earthy base with rich truffle and fennel-aniseed lift from the tarragon. A generous serve.

Tarragon, truffle & mushroom risotto. Photo: Willunga Wino

The fourth course was served with 2001 Cab/Malbec, 2006 Cab/Malbec, and 2011 Cab/Malbec.

The 2006 Cab/Malbec was a spicy number with big tannins, sour cherry on the palate finishing savoury and dry. This was Mr Wino's pick of the night.

The big boy; 06 Cab/Malbec. Photo: Willunga Wino

Mystery wine number 3 - unfortunately not enough to go around so I settled for a sniff of my neighbour's. Turned out to be a magnum of Cullen's Diana Madeline! An Australian classic I am again yet to try.

Fifth and final course was a delectable dessert of fig & walnut French toast, served with maple ice cream, bananna jam, and honeycomb. Warm, yielding, salty sweet, and crunchy, a truly more-ish dessert.

French toast with honeycomb. Photo: Willunga Wino

Lucky door prizes were drawn from our place cards. As our group of five were all called "Robert Mack" for the evening, I started a trend by pledging my (very real!) love. Love was in the air but none of our cards were drawn. Next time!

A lotta love in the room. Photo: Willunga Wino

Rounding out a wonderful evening, was a seamless pick up and transfer to our door with Chook, of Chook's Little Winery Tours (thanks Chook!) - an essential, well patronised and much loved service in the Vale.

There will be a second (and if demand calls for it, a third) Wendouree wine dinner at the Victory Hotel on Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th September from 7pm, $185pp hosted by Nick Ryan and Doug Govan, with 5 courses and 13 Wendouree wines, including the 2012 vintage. Bookings 08 8556 3072.

Rating : 5 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu: Modern Australian, local focus including indigenous ingredients, a la carte and degustation
Meal Size: Perfect
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Unpretentious, arty, chic, seaside.
Standout Dish: Anything house smoked, local fish.
Service: Friendly, helpful, attentive.
Online Booking: Yes, and by phone.
Restaurant Details and Location:
1 The Esplanade, Port Willunga
South Australia 5173
Tel No: 08 8557 7420
Opening Hours: Lunch Wednesday to Sunday 12-3pm. Dinner Friday & Saturday from 6pm
Access: Free off street parking.


Star of Greece on Urbanspoon