Thursday, 24 July 2014

Why I Write - July 2014

The Adelaide food blogging scene is very friendly, supportive & Welcoming. I met friend & fellow blogger Anne Green from Epicurian Epistles at this year's Tasting Australia OzHarvest Cook for a Cause event

Following that, we kept in touch, and Anne invited me to be part of a blog hop - in her words "a bit like a blog version of pass the parcel, in that you pick up a theme, do your bit then pass it on to others. What’s great about it is it gives bloggers the chance to connect with and promote each other. The theme of this one is “Why I Write” – which is something I often wonder."

Me too Anne, so I was more than happy to participate.


My first book was published when I was four. 

Now when I say published, I mean hand written and illustrated, with a coloured cardboard cover and hand stitched ribbon binding.

Ask four year old me why I write and I'm sure I would have said then - as now - because I have something to say.

Willunga Wino at "Tasting Australia" food bloggers conference. Photo: Mr Wino

 My parents instilled a love of travel in me from an early stage, taking me to exotic locales full of new culture, language, food, experiences and landscapes instead of driving new cars. Am I ever glad they did! 

Another initiative I'm grateful to my parents for doing - aside from reading me an ever growing library of books - was to convince me to write a diary during each & every trip. These I filled with drawings of what took my fancy, brochures, tickets, wrappers and my observations. The diaries are treasured possessions now, and reflecting on how I saw the world as a child and adolescent are insightful, sometimes cringe-worthy, sometimes unrecognisable, but sometimes provides a glimpse of who I was to become.

Adelaide street art. Photo: Willunga Wino

It is a privilege to be able to self publish one's own thoughts with freedom from persecution.  

Likewise, sharing one's passions is a joy. The joy of discovery. Of travel. Of food. Of wine. Of producers, and the unique landscapes that provide all of earth's inhabitants with all available earthly wealth, health and beauty. 

A fountain of wine! Photo: Mr Wino

Working toward a level of equilibrium between human needs for food, safety, learning, communities and fulfilling work, and the ability of earth's systems & inhabitants to provide for those needs long into the future is my vision. 

My driving passion is to help create a future that works.

One that works for people, for communities, for animals, and ecosystems - such that all their inherent and equal rights to survive & thrive are met. 

Sand sculpture contest, Christies Beach, Jan 2014. Photo: Willunga Wino

My current writing takes two main forms. Work & my blogging.

For work, I write to convince, to influence, to prove, to record success and learn (plus allow others to learn) from failures. This is business writing, some sales & marketing, always from the place of my mission & vision. This writing has a very different style to my blogging.

Rockford Wines cellar, Barossa Valley. Photo: Willunga Wino

My blogging originated in a very primitive form in 2007, as an online diary to record the trials and tribulations of building a first home to climb onto the Sydney property ladder. Written from the perspective of a young Gen Y couple working full time, it now stands as a record & reminder of a very difficult and stressful time in our lives.

Interspersed with building laments & celebrations, are the first sparks of my future food & wine blogging, with a spattering of event reviews. 

My writing then evolved into another life long hobby - entering competitions. Especially those that require you to write something to enter.

Aldinga Beach. Photo: Willunga Wino

A short stint of extending that into rhyming restaurant reviews then gave way to a few years of being very career focused.

Though still coming from my core vision & mission, my blog is my creative outlet, my hobby, and also a reminder of the amazing experiences i have had. This writing started about nine months after I moved from Sydney - my home for all my life - to the McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia, after my partner accepted a role as a winemaker.

Ant nest, Aldinga Scrub. Photo: Willunga Wino

I became so impressed with the lifestyle, community, connection to the earth - its' bounty and producers, the stunning landscape, Mediterranean climate - that I felt the need to share my discoveries. 

Having for the first time achieved a more sustainable work-life balance, it felt very natural to start my blog of food, wine, travel, recipes and sustainable lifestyle articles in November 2013. 

Backyard butterfly. Photo: Willunga Wino

I love sharing my food, wine, travel & sustainable lifestyle experiences with our local businesses and the community.


The last part of the blog hop is to pass the baton to three others. 

MissGMNO is Robyn Cacioppo, a writer based in Chicago USA, whom I connected with on Twitter. We both have very strong sustainability ethos running through our blogs, with Robyn's blog having a particular focus on genetically engineered/modified food. Read about why Robyn writes, here

My Seasonal Kitchen is Sarah-Jane, a fellow food blogger now based in Adelaide, South Australia, whom I met while at the Tasting Australia "Words to Go" food bloggers conference in April 2014. SJ's blog focuses on South Australia's amazing seasonal produce, which is the inspiration for recipes and stories about producers and farmers markets. Read why SJ writes, here. 


Sarah-Jane from My Seasonal Kitchen. Photo: My Seasonal Kitchen website

Padaek is a food-blogging Laotian living in Sydney Australia, whom I connected with via Facebook. Padaek has recipies and stories about Laotian cuisine adapted to ingredients available in Australia. Read why Padaek writes, here. 

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Delectable Lao recipe. Photo: Padaek website

Monday, 21 July 2014

Primo Estate Wines - McLaren Vale - July 2014

Primo Estate offer a world class tasting experience.

Australian Traveller Magazine even named it as one of the 100 Greatest Gourmet Experiences .

Looking South from Primo Estate. Photo: Willunga Wino

It is an absolute pleasure to hop on treadlies in Willunga and cycle past vineyards, paddocks and gum trees, with the ocean (Gulf St Vincent) to the left and the tail end of the Adelaide Hills (Mt Lofty Ranges) to the right. Is it any wonder that this mixed agricultural and natural landscape is being promoted for UNESCO World Heritage status?


Winter in Willunga. Photo: Willunga Wino

10 minutes down the Shiraz Trail and you see the architectural wonder that is Primo Estate. 

Stunning Primo Estate Cellar Door. Photo: Willunga Wino

Choose your time of year right and you may see whole bunch Cabernet grapes drying on racks "Amarone" style, under the architectural wonder of an open air wood clad garaging shed.

Springtime at Primo. Photo: Willunga Wino

You can drop in for a tasting, but if you make a booking for The Joseph Experience ($15pp redeemable against any Joseph purchase), you are in for a signature McLaren Vale treat.

Through to Joseph Experience seating. Photo: Willunga Wino

We are welcomed warmly and offered a taste of the 2013 Prosecco ($20 cellar door), with vibrant fizz and fruit salad nose with crisp acidity.

Mushroom cloud of Prosecco bubbles. Photo: Willunga Wino

As huge fans of one of the first true extra virgin olive oils produced in Australia, Joseph Olive Oil always holds pride of place in our pantry. New season 2014 First Run Olive Oil ($32, 750ml, cellar door) is unfiltered and a vibrant green colour. Smooth, viscous and buttery, it is not peppery but has hint of astringency, lending itself especially well to acidic or spicy dishes.

The 2013 EVOO - the one nearly finished in our pantry - is clear and more yellow with a peppery bite, helping it to stand out in any dish, especially creamy ones.

We admire the aroma and colour in a glass, as well as served with Italian grand padano and local legend Andy Clappis' bread. 

2014 First Run olive oil, grand padano, Andy Clappis bread. Photo: Willunga Wino

2013 Joseph d'Elena Pinot Grigio ($30, cellar door) has a pretty nose and a nice full mouth feel.

Handy tasting notes. Photo: Willunga Wino

The 2013 Primo & Co Venetian Gargenega ($25, cellar door) is made in Italy, and is juicy with shiny acidity, which is characteristic of Italian wines. It has a light body and a mineral nose.

The 2013 Il Briccone - "The Brick" - Shiraz Sangiovese ($25, cellar door) is typical McLaren Vale, beautiful kirsch, coffee grounds & dark choc nose has a dryer palate than expected, with violets and a lingering meatiness on the finish.

My new favourite is the 2012 Joseph Nebbiolo ($80,cellar door). An unbelievable nose of cola, roses and dried mint gives way to a dried spice palate, grippy tannins and a savoury finish.

Nice Nebb. Photo: Willunga Wino

2012 Joseph Angel Gully Shiraz ($80, cellar door) dried herb & spice nose very clean dark finish. Maybe similar barrels were used in the Nebb to give the dried spice character in both.

Mr Wino's pick is the flagship Primo red - the Moda Cabernet ($80, cellar door). The Moda is made using "Amarone" style winemaking, where the air dried grapes are pressed to produce more concentrated and complex flavours.  You can smell the characteristic cabernet capsicum, but it is not at all overdone.  The Moda is a thick, brick red, full bodied, juicy style.

The mighty Moda. Photo: Willunga Wino

To celebrate the 25th vintage of the Joseph Moda, there is a competition at the cellar door where any purchase of the 2012 Moda gains an entry to win a lunch for ten of your friends with winemaker Joe Grilli plus $2000 to help with transport or accommodation

Chance at a free lunch. Photo: Willunga Wino

You can get a mini-Moda experience from the Zamberlan ($31.50 direct from winery) which sees cab sauv and sangiovese pumped over the Moda amarone skins. A green nose with a hint of dried mint gives way to soft, full, nice acidity & tannin. Like the Moda, the Zamberlan has the delicious fruit cake, dried fruit, and darker chocolate and tobacco flavours.

The Joseph Sparkling Red ($70 cellar door) is a classic Australian sparking shiraz. Roses, violets, purple fruit, and a generous pinch of spice make for a pretty nose. By contrast it has a clean finish, maybe a bit dryer than the Rockford Black Shiraz, and the palate cleans up with the bubbles.

Just like no meal is complete without something sweet to finish, so too the Primo tasting. Even better, the Fronti NV ($50 cellar door) is served with an espresso coffee. Both have strong nutty notes, with the Fronti full of dried raisins. 

The Fronti with espresso. Photo: Willunga Wino

Finishing in style, a tasting of La Magia - "The Magic" - ($30 cellar door) a sticky riesling traminer made by spraying lab-grown botrytis onto the harvested fruit. Apricot jam on the nose leads into a fresh acid clean up at the end.

The Grillo (& Zamberlan) story. Photo: Willunga Wino

The new recipe & history book about the founding Primo Estate families, the Grillo's and the Zamberlan's would make a wonderful gift for anyone who is a fan of Italian food & wine.

A parting gift. Photo: Willunga Wino

Service, style, views for miles.

Primo Estate should be on everyone's McLaren Vale wine tasting agenda. 

What is your favourite McLaren Vale cellar door experience?

Have your say - Comments below brighten my day!

Rating : 5 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu – Italian wines & hospitality, turned up to ten for the Joseph Experience ($15pp, redeemable with purchase)
Meal Size: You could while away a few hours enjoying the experience.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Stunning views & architecture, friendly & down to earth feel.
Standout Dish: The Joseph Experience, $15pp
Service: Friendly, inviting, above & beyond service.
Online Booking: Yes, by phone.
Restaurant Details and Location: 
Lot 50 McMurtrie Road
McLaren Vale
South Australia 5171
Tel No: 08 8323 6800
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 11am-4pm 
Access: Large onsite off-street carpark.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Dowie Doole - McLaren Vale - June 2014

Sea & Vines Festival on the June long weekend is a plethora of food & wine events in the crisp winter air of McLaren Vale. Some of these events are big - very big - and you find yourself sharing the experience with hundreds of others. Some are more modestly sized, so you can still have some one on one time with the winemaker and cellar door staff.

Dowie Doole specialise in these more intimate events. So far we have been to a Pulled Pork day in December 2013, a Raclette & Petanque day at Sea & Vines 2013, and now this special Raclette & Wine day as part of the Sea & Vines 2014.

Native replantings at Dowie Doole. Photo: Willunga Wino

Dowie Doole wines is on California Rd in McLaren Vale, on the way to Willunga. Three friends, Norm Doole, Drew Dowie and Leigh Gilligan joined forces with winemaker Chris Thomas to run the business. One of the newer wineries, the tasting room opened for seven days a week trading in December 2013. 

Small selection of the Dowie Doole range. Photo: Willunga Wino

The beautiful modern tasting room sits overlooking an estate vineyard to the north, with a lovely green lawn edged with native gum trees, full of local birds. The green provides an ideal surface for playing a round of petanque.

The sheltered verandah of the tasting room. Photo: Willunga Wino

In partnership with the Smelly Cheese Shop's Lulu Lunn, freshly grilled authentically French raclette cheese was offered with a plate of cheese friendly extras for $15. 

Lulu and her trusty French raclette griller were churning out bubbled, hot, crunchy slathes of delicious cheese.

Lulu Lunn preparing & scraping the raclette. Photo: Willunga Wino

My French friend recalls traditional feasting on grilled raclette with bread, boiled potatoes, charcuterie and pickles as an apres-ski tradition in the French Alps, accompanied with cider. 

Here, we opt for a bottle of the G&T - not gin and tonic - but Grenache and Temparanillo, two of McLaren Vale's most well suited varieties.

Just another day in paradise. Photo: Willunga Wino

The G&T is a medium bodied drop, with red fruits on the nose including spicy ripe strawberries. 

A nice structure complemented the roundness of the rich cheese, and good balance meant the wine didn't overwhelm the wine, nor the wine the food. 

Winter couldn't stop the G&T from shining. Photo: Willunga Wino

A raclette plate has a variety of tastes, temperatures and textures. Crunchy pickled onions and cornichons, hot melty cheese, fresh baguette, and meaty charcuterie. It takes a well balanced drop to stand up to that kind of variety. 

French styled perfection. Photo: Willunga Wino

The scale & creativity of Dowie Doole's events, and the integrity of their wines and food partners, all means we'll be back - again!

Finger licking good. Photo: Willunga Wino

What do you look for in a perfect food & wine event?

Have your say - Comment below!

Rating : 5 Glasses 
Price: $
Menu – French style grilled cheese, hot potatoes, pickles, bread and charcuterie
Meal Size: Generous plates, no less than four different home made cakes by the slice.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Honest, friendly, inviting.
Standout Dish: Raclette plates, $15; G&T Wine, $25 a bottle
Service: Enthusiastic, helpful & knowledgeable.
Online Booking: Yes, by phone & Facebook event RSVP.
Restaurant Details and Location: 
276 California Rd
McLaren Vale
South Australia 5171
Tel No: 08 8323 8875
Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm 7 days a week 
Access: Large onsite off-street carpark.


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Yelp Goes Italiano - Red Trousers Bar - Adelaide May 2014

Lets talk about the name first. 

Trousers is the name of bar owner Oli's dog - a red heeler. Hence the name - very cute!

Man's best friend also quenches man's thirst at this little pop-up bar that could.

The bar's namesake. Photo: Willunga Wino

Opened to serve the Adelaide Fringe Festival crowds after just a one week, hand done fit out, Oli & Ed aimed to serve Italian themed beers and wines including locally made Italian variety wines in an unpretentious, friendly space. 

Sadly Red Trousers Bar is no longer, but expect Oli and Ed to pop up with a new and more permanent venture soon, and if this cosy little Italian bar is any indication, it should be a cracker.

Beer & Cheese. Photo: Willunga Wino

Oli kicked off proceedings with a blind tasting of four beers, including a hoppy & crisp Lord Nelson Pale Ale from my old stomping ground, Sydney, and a Caterpillar Pale Ale which is a craft brew from Italy.

Then it was wine time.

Wine is ALWAYS better. Photo: Willunga Wino

Representing McLaren Vale, "the Mediterranean of Australia", was Harold from Coriole wines & olives. 

Our household has long been addicted to Coriole's award winning table olives, their spectacular Italian wine varieties (seek out their Sagrantino) and their unbeatable shared lunch platters enjoyed under the wide verandahs of the heritage restaurant building onsite at Coriole.

Harold from Coriole. Photo: Willunga Wino

The new release 2014 Fiano is every bit as food friendly as its earlier vintages - smells a little like olive oil, it is so floral. 

The Lloyd family which own Coriole, also have a close connection to that favourite match to Italian wine - cheese! Mark Lloyd is married to Kris Lloyd who founded Woodside Cheese. Coriole and Woodside keep it in the family, with a shared stall at the Willunga Farmers Market and Woodside cheeses on taste and for purchase at the cellar door.

We were treated with a taste of the fresh Woodside Goat Cherve, drizzled generously with Coriole's EVOO and a sprinkle of cracked pepper. So simple, but so intensly flavoursome and delicious.

A formidible match with Coriole's Fiano.  

My favourite white, the Coriole Fiano. Photo: Willunga Wino

The technical definition of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is that it must contain free fatty acidity less than 0.8%.

As the olive berries continue to ripen, Free Fatty Acid increases. If FFA is 0.9 - 2%, then it is Virgin Olive Oil.

If the FFA is over 2% - then Harold says you have lamp oil!! Or, as it is more commonly known, just plain olive oil. 

Light Olive Oil means petrochemicals have been used to process it to lighten the colour. 

The Coriole EVOO is at 0.18% FFA.  

Olive oil should be eaten fresh. Harold's recommendation - "Eat fresh, eat local". 

And remember, Coriole in McLaren Vale SA & Mount Zero in the Grampians VIC were the first to make EVOO and the first to list the harvest date and olives used on the label.

New season Coriole EVOO. Photo: Willunga Wino

The Piedmontese wine grape Barbera, grown at Coriole, creates a full, soft style with very integrated nice tannin.

Coriole's Barbera. Photo: Willunga Wino

Lauren & Kirsty from La Casa de Formaggio then introduced us to the 25 year old biz, started by matriach Rosa who started by making ricotta to sell in their continental deli.

Key for vegetarians is the use of non - animal rennet in the entire range.

Confused about the difference between bocconcini & mozzarella?

Bocconcini is a cows milk cheese, cooked the least, at lower temperature, is higher in moisture - usually 65-70%, and is paler in colour. 

Bocconcini pop, anyone? Photo: Willunga Wino

Mozzarella is traditionally a buffalo milk cheese that has lower moisture - usually around 50%, is cooked longer, is firmer, and more yellow in colour. 

Cows milk mozzarella is technically called Fiore de Latte. 

La Casa del Formaggio also make La Bianca which is mid-way between a mozzarella and bocconcini is formed into a log shape for easy slicing - perfect for pizza. It has slightly more sweetness. 

If you are feeling indulgent, available fresh from the factory is the 100% handmade burrata - a big ball of bocconcini filled with cream & mozzarella shreds, then tied into a neat, knot parcel. 

Fresh goat cheese is a bit firm like feta, nice and salty. It's meant to be really good with beetroot.

Fresh goat cheese pop. Photo: Willunga Wino

For something a little different, the Piccantino is a smooth, mild Edam style cheese with chili flakes that add a bite of heat.

Chilli cheese pop. Photo: Willunga Wino

Oli from Red Trousers Bar then took us through a fun Italian red wine tasting challenge, with three bottles, and three descriptions, with Yelper's tasked with matching the right description to the wine.

Better than one wine, is three wines! Photo: Willunga Wino

Red Trousers had a wonderful vibe, small, friendly, and cosy seating spaces, including upstairs. 

With Red Trousers now closed, Oli & Ed are looking for their next venue.

Can't wait to see what & where it is!

Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Yelp! Adelaide. I chose to write the review, it was not solicited. This review is all my honest opinion. 

Rating : 4 Glasses 
Price: $
Menu – Italian & local Italian varietal wines, Italian beers, and snacks.
Meal Size: Tasty snacks.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Friendly, fun, inclusive.
Standout Dish: Italian Caterpillar beer.
Service: Friendly, chatty and knowledgeable.
Online Booking: No bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:

Sadly, closed.

Oli & Ed will have a new bar opening elsewhere in the Adelaide CBD soon.

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