Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Clyde Park - Bannockburn, Victoria - August 2014

Upon entry wind down the windows. You will be serenade by frogs. 

Natural beauty. Photo: Willunga Wino

Welcome to Clyde Park, Bannockburn, mid way between Ballarat and Geelong.

Welcoming sign. Photo: Willunga Wino

Just past the barrel shed is a view to write home about, across rolling green hills lined with vines. 

Breathtaking view. Photo: Willunga Wino

The cellar door and main cafe seating area is inside the barrel shed, but you can also choose the wide verandah with wood fired pizza oven on one side and the view on the other.

Inviting barrel hall. Photo: Willunga Wino

Dine with a view. Photo: Willunga Wino

 Small touches in the decorating makes a huge difference to what is essentially a shed on a hill, lined with barrels full of sleeping wines

Thoughtfully decorated, local produce for sale. Photo: Willunga Wino

A quick wine tasting before lunch is well worth your while.

Part of the Clyde Park line up. Photo: Willunga Wino

There are a number of ranges at Clyde Park, the Reserve is being run out, but the Locale, Estate and Block ranges will remain. 

The 2011 Reserve Chardonnay ($18) is the old, bold style with a good whack of oak and pawpaw, but with nice soft acid giving lingering juiciness. 

The Locale range is comprised of 70% local and 30% non-estate fruit.

Estate Pinot Noir 2013 ($28) has a French inspired mushroom nose. Smooth and spicy, the palate finishes with low tannin.

Estate Shiraz 2013 ($28) has more red fruit spectrum with a whack of spice. Medium to medium plus so a good match for the wood fired pizzas. Refreshing acidity also helps, as does moderate non-aggressive tannin and good length.

Wine gift packs. Photo: Willunga Wino

Clever menu highlights local seasonal produce with the tag "Victorian Taste".

Tasty menu. Photo: Willunga Wino

All of the pizzas are presented beautifully on wooden boards, with crisp, thin wood fired bases in rectangle shape, the perfect size for one.

The High Tide pizza ($35) is adorned with almost translucent scallops and prawns, so there is no fear of them being overdone.

High Tide pizza ($35). Photo: Willunga Wino

Salami ($29) is adorned with rocket and creme fraiche to balance the spiced charcuterie.

Salami ($29) pizza. Photo: Willunga Wino

Acropolis ($29) is delicious with house grown pumpkin, Mt Zero olives and Merideth Goat Fetta add saltiness.

Pick of the bunch, Acropolis. Photo: Willunga Wino

Middle Eastern ($32) has tender lamb strips and a little dish of tangy/spicy aoli to add in the perfect proportion for your taste.

Spicy and flavoursome. Photo: Willunga Wino

Buffalo Bill ($24) is a margherita with both normal and local Shaw River buffalo mozzerella. Perfect stretch & squeak, and plenty of the cheese, makes for a substantial pizza. My preferred style is less-is-more. A sprinkle of the Mt Zero pink lake salt makes it sing.

Buffalo Bill, they're big & they're cheesy. Photo: Willunga Wino

Both the pinot with it's clean acid and the shiraz with it's medium body are well suited to the pizzas.

Make a point of wandering outside. There is a compact but delightful kitchen garden. 

Kitchen garden. Photo: Willunga Wino

Chooks luxuriate in a deluxe run with substantial coop, fed with scraps from the pizza making process. 

Friendly chooks. Photo: Willunga Wino

Wire terrariums hang. 

Decorations with style. Photo: Willunga Wino

Facilities are signposted with old maps. 

Map of Paris. Photo: Willunga Wino

And they are rooms with a one-way view over the hills.

Now that's a view! Photo: Willunga Wino

Service is friendly and attentive, with thoughtful touches like blankets for your knees on each chair and well placed heat lamps. Cutlery is a cut above and very art deco in style. It is little wonder that this is a popular venue for hens parties and birthday celebrations with long tables available inside and room to spread your blanket and retire to a spot in the sun on the hill outside afterward, glass in hand, admiring the view.

Styled to perfection. Photo: Willunga Wino

A wonderful location for an afternoon in the sun, great wines, local food, and good times.

Rating : 4 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu – Wood fired pizza, burgers, calamari, share platters.
Meal Size: Each pizza satisfies one.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Beautifully styled, rustic chic.
Standout Dish: Acropolis pizza $29.
Service: Friendly, helpful, welcoming.
Online Booking: Yes, and by phone.
Restaurant Details and Location:
2490 Midland Hwy
VIC 3331
Tel No: (03) 5281 7274
Opening Hours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for lunch from 12pm & Public Holidays 
Access: Onsite, off street carpark.

Clyde Park Winery on Urbanspoon


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.