Monday, 22 September 2014

Eclectic Tastes Cafe - Ballarat, Victoria - August 2014

Melbourne has long been thought of as a hub of sophisticated coffee culture, and this has spread quickly into regional hubs, and indeed across Australia.

Eclectic Cafe is housed on a corner in a unique wedge-shaped building.

Welcoming sight. Photo: Willunga Wino

It reminds me of a miniature New York City Flat Iron Building, one of my favourite pieces of iconic New York architecture.

Unique building. Photo: Willunga Wino

Choose to dine inside by the tempting cakes cabinet, or outside in a sunny, pet friendly courtyard - water bowls provided for furry family members.

Four legged friends welcome. Photo: Willunga Wino

Help yourself water station for two legged patrons is a nice touch for those dining in the sunny courtyard. 

Help yourself to water. Photo: Willunga Wino

On this weekday morning we are soon joined by a friendly waiter, perhaps the owner, who takes orders and shares a chat. I've read mixed reviews about the service but have been here twice and never had anything but good service.

A happy sign. Photo: Willunga Wino

 A specials blackboard is located near the door and on this visit appears to have cupcakes on special!

Cupcakes on the menu. Photo: Willunga Wino

 The building itself is adorned with ever changing street artworks well worth taking a wander to admire.

Gorgeous street art. Photo: Willunga Wino

 Coffee is supplied by Espresso di Manifredi, it is a nice dark roast with strong flavour profile. The piccolo double shot latte is up to Mr Wino's standards.

Lovely tableware. Photo: Willunga Wino

Soy cappucino allows the coffee to shine and has a generous chocolate sprinkle topping.

That's good coffee. Photo: Willunga Wino

It's a sunny little corner which is a great stop after a spin around the Lake for a coffee.

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Rating : 3.5 Glasses 
Price: $
Menu: Bunch, sandwiches, cakes, coffee.
Meal Size: From coffee & cake to to full meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance:Artistic, fun, friendly.
Standout Dish: Coffees.
Service: Friendly, table service.
Online Booking: No, bookings by phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
2 Burnbank St
Lake Wendouree
Tel No: (03) 5339 9252
Opening Hours: From 9am monday to Friday until afternoon. From 8am weekends until afternoon.
Access: There is on-street parking nearby.

Eclectic Tastes on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Quick Sip - Krinklewood Wild Red 2013 - September 2014

From one of my favourite HV producers on a beautiful biodynamic farm in Broke. Peacocks strut, chooks invite themselves into the tasting room, and you can grab a cheese plate and sit in the stunning wisteria covered courtyard and enjoy the serenity. It's oh so close but oh so far from glitzy Pokolbin.

To look at this drop has a ruby edged purple hue.

Lifted nose of rasberry sherbert, with not much oak influence suggesting use of old oak or steel ferment.

Sweet fruit palate, mildest tannin, and gentle acidity make this great for a beach picnic, lightly chilled.

Krinklewood Wild Red 2013. Photo: Willunga Wino

Region: Broke, Hunter Valley
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Stelvin
Price: $20 at cellar door
Tasted: September 2014
Rating: 4 glasses
Food Match: Cracker paired with creaminess.
Available: Direct from winery.

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Bodhi in the Park - Hyde Park, Sydney - August 2014

Some zen in the heart of the city is a rare find. Down a short flight of stairs on the eastern forecourt of imposing St Mary's Cathedral, waits Bodhi.

St Mary's Cathedral. Photo: Willunga Wino

Huge, ancient Moreton Bay Fig trees create a green grove, twinkling with fairy lights. 

This is one of the most charming & delicious outdoor yum cha locations in the world. 

You will share it with the local, and very forward, pigeon population at brunch and lunch time though. But don't let that put you off. 

Outdoor dining. Photo: Willunga Wino

On a not-so-balmy winter's evening, the dark timber, red and grey interior beckons. Buddha heads help set the mood at modest table settings. 

Simple, classy setting. Photo: Willunga Wino

Asian 'tapas' dishes made for sharing are the signature at Bodhi.  All food is made to order, and in keeping with a Buddhist philosophy, is 100% vegetarian (despite some of the names of dishes), with an emphasis on Australian and organic produce. Youthful and smiley unobtrusive  waitstaff are apologetic that the betel leaf starter we ordered is unavailable. Not to worry. There are plenty of other choices.

Spanning Chinese yum cha dumplings and steamed buns, Thai salads, Japanese edamame, the starter & tapas menu suits all tastes. In the mains, heartier sized portions The offerings all have a twist making them quite unique and better than run of the mill Asian offerings.

The compact wine list cheekily lists only the 'Bodhi' own-label wines by the glass. Generous serves of the Chardonnay ($7.50) are crisp, but struggle to shine against the more flavoursome and fully spiced dishes. Some more aromatic options would be welcome.

Sharing the spread. Photo: Willunga Wino

Edamame ($4.50) arrive first, a good sized portion with a little bowl each for the empty pods. Nicely salted and hot, as they should be, they made for a tasty snack.

Spinach dumplings ($7, 3 dumplings) are fat with filling and deliciously simple in their translucent-thin wrappers. 

BBQ steamed buns ($7, 3 buns) have their chunky but modest sized filling sweetened with raisins, and have a soft fluffy texture in the bun.

Peking duck pancakes ($23) came with a mountain of crispy skinned slices with nice chewiness. Five pancakes, some cucumber sticks (no soggy seeds), a chilli and a hoisin sauce completed the dish. Then it is over to those sharing to fill & roll their own. Smooth and springy pancakes hold up well - even when excitedly overstuffed by Peking duck amateurs like me!

"Duck" pancake ready to roll. Photo: Willunga Wino

Red curry ($21) comes loaded with sweet roasted pumpkin, and your choice of 'chicken' or 'prawns' (+$3).  The sauce is intriguing and morish, being absent of cream and sugar which ruins many a curry, and is instead loaded with fragrant spices that yield a medium heat. 'Prawns' are plentiful, squeaky textured mildly flavoured.

"Prawn" curry. Photo: Willunga Wino

Some small details are missed, like cutlery to eat our shared curry, and that it comes with a single roti that is tricky to share. However the overall impression is positive. A wonderfully peaceful location in the heart of the city matches well with the philosophy of the restaurant, and the menu. Which is completely sans-animal products. Non-vegetarian friends and and family have dined with me here in the last and not realised that it is not a 'regular' restaurant.

My suggestion, every resident and visitor to Sydney should make a point of dining at least once in the leafy courtyard for a yum cha brunch, with steaming baskets of endless variety offered fresh from the kitchen. Don't miss the Dim Sum.

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Rating : 3.5 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu: Asian share plates (tapas).
Meal Size: From snacks to full meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Serene, classy, in nature.
Standout Dish: Red Curry with "Prawns" $24, and Spinach Dumplings $7.
Service: Friendly, table service.
Online Booking: Phone or email bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:
Lwr Mezzanine,
Cook & Phillip Park
2-4 College St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel No: (02) 9360 2523
Opening Hours: Yum Cha 11am-4pm 7 days; Dinner 5pm-10pm Tue-Sun.
Access: There is St James train station nearby, otherwise parking stations under St Mary's Cathedral and in the Domain.

Bodhi in the Park on Urbanspoon


Bing Boy -Various locations, Adelaide - August 2014

The pre-movie food court dash is fraught with danger, for the seeker and fellow patrons forced to hear, see and smell your meal in an enclosed space for two hours. Often choices are limited. Often golden arches, or submarines are involved. Fear not, movie goer, popping up all over Adelaide is an eatery with healthful, tasty, neat & quick options for you. Enter the Bing.

Nice styling. Photo: Willunga Wino

Watching your meal being made right before your eyes is always entertaining. Bing Boy is the same, especially because it is a Chinese street snack that is not well known here and certainly not commonly available.

Crepe burritos. Photo: Willunga Wino

Why the name Bing Boy? 

A "Bing" is a Chinese street food, kind of like a Chinese burrito. Upon selecting you can upgrade to wholemeal wheat batter for an extra dollar. Batter is spread thinly onto a crepe pan, and then a layer of egg is added (you can ask for no egg if it's not your thing, there is no indication if the egg used is free range or not). 

And you'll say 'oh boy" with excitement upon trying one.

Nicely decorated. Photo: Willunga Wino

The premises is sparkling clean and very neat, the service prompt and carful with food safety, taking payment with gloves off and putting gloves back on for preparing food.

Made before your eyes. Photo: Willunga Wino

The thin stretchy crepe is cooked, flipped and then filled with your selection of toppings before being rolled up neatly and handed to you.

The menu is varied with 8 different options and the occasional seasonal special. 

We opted for a Veg-ing ($6.90) and a seasonal special, the Tokyo Teriyaki Mini ($4.90).

Special Bing. Photo: Willunga Wino

Bings are served in paper wrap that is handily perforated for tearing off.

Clever packaging. Photo: Willunga Wino

The Veg-ing was filled with the base of the thin whole wheat (extra $1) omlette wrap with egg, green onions, coriander, sesame seeds & crispy wonton pieces. As well as that it had avocado, mushroom, sweet and sour carrot, baby spinach, mixed salad and mayonaise. The crepe has a stretchy, chewy texture and the interior has crunchy, soft, sourness, sweetness and creaminess. It feels healthy too. Vegans can ask to skip the egg and mayo.

The Tokyo Teriyaki Mini had the base plus avocado, teriyaki chicken, special Bing sauce, Tangy sauce, toothsome chicken and smooth avocado made for a tasty snack.

Bing Boy have a number of branches in Adelaide and  are a healthy option if you are choosing in the food court.

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Rating : 4 Glasses 
Price: $
Menu: Meat, seafood and vegetarian wraps.
Meal Size: From snacks to meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Clean, fresh, fun. 
Standout Dish: Veg-ing $6.90 (extra $1 for whole wheat).
Service: Friendly, quick.
Online Booking: No bookings.

Restaurant Details and Location:
Various - see website

Bing Boy on Urbanspoon


Winter Wine Fest - Consumer Tasting - National Wine Centre, Adelaide - Aug 2014

Stunning late winter sun greeted the first ever Winter Wine Fest consumer tasting, held at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide.

The National Wine Centre is a stunning venue made up of great architecture, a do-it-yourself wine museum, function spaces, restaurant/cafe, and "Wined" wine bar featuring 120 bottle on the airless, oxidation free enomatic pour system.

Architectural wonder. Photo: Willunga Wino

Styling in the lobby, outside the event space, was beautiful and welcoming, and the check in process painless and void of queuing for the $10 entry tickets. 

Stylish signage. Photo: Willunga Wino

Winter citrus decorated the indoor "chill out zone" replete with couches and close to the ticket purchase area. 

Once your initial entry ticket was checked off, and glasses issued outside, a second queue was for purchasing tasting tickets, for $2 a pop, with pour sizes a bit inconsistent.  

A little birdy told me that before 1pm (we arrived at 2.30pm) all tastings were being poured for free. 

Glasses ranged from $6-8, and bottles were also available.

Seasonal citrus. Photo: Willunga Wino

Indoor food on offer was a cheese bar with a hunk of blue available for a free taste with honey and crackers. It was a little messy though.

Cheese Bar. Photo: Willunga Wino

All of the participating winery stands were located inside. On tasting were 30+ wines, beers and ciders from South Australian producers from McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills and Barossa. They included:

Shut The Gate
Deviation Rd
Samuels Gorge
BK Wines
Lobo Cider

Around 5 wines from the standard range of each was on offer. 

Producer zone. Photo: Willunga Wino

First taste of the day went to Deviation Rd. Their Sparkling Rose was an extremely popular choice for young women at the event. The Brut is intensly lemony, with no yeasty beady notes to speak of. A great way to start a tasting, with a palate of crisp apples ending with juicy acidity.

MR Wino opted for a taste of the Samuel's Gorge Tempranillo 2012, always a winner. 

$2 tasting of Deviation Rd Brut. Photo: Willunga Wino

Cider has been embraced by South Australian producers in a big way. Unsurprisingly, most is made from Adelaide Hills fruit. There are at least six producers, each with their own niche, be it from a winery (Sidewood Cider), local produce drivenn (Hills Cider Co),  or a crowd-funded side project of three mates with full time jobs, wild fermented in French oak (B Cider Co). 

A new contender, LOBO was on offer at the event, with artwork reminiscent of Gretel Girl's style. They boast a base made of heritage cider apple varieties, rather than dessert apples like Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples.

LOBO style. Photo: Willunga Wino

Outside in the sun there was a cover band, sunny and and shady picnic spots on the grass, market stalls, and a variety of food offerings. Pulled pork sliders, pizza, and a curry buffet were amongst those on offer. Hot chips in a cone were also available, served Belgian style with aoli. 

Once were chips. Photo: Willunga Wino

By the bottle was better value (and easier than queuing).  

Head Shiraz 2013 has a herbacious nose, medium body and dry finish. Cheers to Wardy & No 9 for sharing with us.

Head Touriga blend displayed a lighter Barossa style - designed to be an homage to Beaujolais. 

Head 2013 Shiraz. Photo: Willunga Wino

Soon it was time for us to scoot along to our sold out Shut The Gate Clare Valley Masterclass ($20).

Ever since we met the owners of Shut The Gate at the 2014 Cellar Door Festival, I've been intruiged, and was sorry to miss their Lucky Lupitas/United Latino Cucuina event  during Clare Valley Gourmet. 

Gorgeous signage. Photo: Willunga Wino

One poor wilting flower had spent a few too many tasting tokens, and had a bit of a snooze on the table.

Too much for some. Photo: Willunga Wino

The 2012 Shut The Gate Polich Hill Riesling is from a higher altitude with slate soils. Pale straw in colour, it had mineral, and floral aromas. On the palate it had a big juicy acid line and more of that minerally character. 

A tank sample of the Polish Hull 2014 tingles the nose. It is also floral and pretty, and a little green on the palate.

The 2012 Shut The Gate Watervale Riesling, and is from a lower altitude basin with loamy soils. Broader on the nose and palate than the Polish Hill.

A tnk sample of the Watervale 2014 is still a little active on the tongue but interesting to try.

The 2012 Shut the Gate Blossom Riesling was a semi-sweet style with an orange blossom nose.

Masterclass line up. Photo: Willunga Wino

The 2010 Shut The Gate Grenache had darker purple spectrum aromas compared to McLaren Vale "redskins" styles. 

The 2012 Shut The Gate Barbera has a herbacious nose, that leaps out of the glass with rosemary, Thai basil, mint and roses. Really unique. On the palate it was soft, plummy and spicy with a nice clean acid line and soft tannins.

Beautiful winter weather and architectural surrounds made for a pleasant day out. In 2015 it would be great to see even more winemakers pouring their drops.

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Quick Sip - Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2013 - September 2014

Densely purple, Crimson hints at the scents and flavours to come.

An intruiging charriness, blue fruit nose, something like herbacious bay leaves, with a spicy edge.

Plush plum with char, gives way to chalky tannins, and finishes long with and juicy acid, and a hint of sweetness. A fine wine to sip & savour after tea, and would be a fine match to anything with a cream sauce.

A fine and well priced stablemate to the Gourmet Traveller top scoring Ata Rangi Pinot.

Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot 2013. Photo: Willunga Wino

Region: Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Stelvin
Price: $31 or thereabouts
Tasted: September 2014
Rating: 4 glasses
Food Match: Cracker with creaminess.
Available: Bottle shops and direct from winery.

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Quick Sip - Watercourse Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2013 - September 2014

Wine Wednesday finds me with a shnoz full of strawberry jam and mushroom compost - my two favourite pinot characters. There's also a pinch of spice.
On the palate she is all violets and - after being open for a few days - leather, with a juicy finish. Great to enjoy while dinner bubbles away on the stove and having a nibble on some mushroom pate.
Exclusive to Cellarmasters and new to the market, bottled a few weeks ago, this pretty little bottle will set you back an orange note or thereabouts.
Simply enjoyable!

Watercourse Pinot 2013. Photo: Willunga Wino

Region: Adelaide Hills
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Stelvin
Price: $20 or thereabouts
Tasted: September 2014
Rating: 4 glasses
Food Match: Anything mushroomy or ducky.
Available: Cellarmasters

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