Friday, 30 November 2012

M's Wine Review - Tollana Pinot Noir 2008

I like a good pinot! The better ones can knock your socks off, they're mouth watering! - and usually they're very pricey. I found this particular wine at our local shop - Leo's in Heidelberg, it was discounted from $40 to $25 and I simply couldn't resist, especially after reading that this wine was rated a sound 95 points by James Halliday.

The full name is Tollana Robinson Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008, with the grapes sourced from the Mornington vineyard. The brand was established in 1888, with the company now focusing on making unique wines from various regions across Australia, including Mornington (pinot), Bendigo  (shiraz), Eden Vale (cabernet) and a few others. Their wines have won numerous awards and medals and the brand has been quoted as being the "winemakers brand".

This was a great wine! You could taste the smoothness, refinement and depth of a great vintage. It was very finely spiced, with warm decadent fruit flavours of black berry and plum coming through mid pallet. To my surprise it had great length and a certain consistency of flavour - maybe the right term is "smooth as silk".

I enjoyed it so much that I picked a few more bottles of this Pinot as well as the Tollana Brian and Julie Hurse Vinyard Bendigo Shiraz. I'll review that one some time when I finally get to it - it's currently enjoying a little more ageing!

Price range $25-40 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

M's Wine Review - Warrabilla Durif 2008

On our recent camping trip to Wye River on the Great Ocean Road our friends brought with them a bottle of Durif.

I must admit, I haven't had a Durif before. I had heard about it though, and after looking it up to find out a little more it seems to be a grape that has resulted from a cross pollination of Syrah (shiraz) and peloursin flowers. This grape grape is known as petite sirah.

The grape produces dark, inky coloured wine that can be relatively acidic, with a firm texture. Compared to a normal shiraz these wines are darker and look "heavy" in appearance. 

We started enjoying this wine late in the afternoon on the camp site, and if I was to summarise it, I'd say it's smooth, heavy, easy to drink and impenetrable. The reason why I say impenetrable, is because this is a heavy wine, it's almost a port! At 16% alcohol it isn't something you can have more than a glass or two of.

The Warrabilla Durif has vanilla flavours, some light spice, pleasant length and a certain degree of sweetness for which petite sirah is famous for.

I'd certainly have this wine again but it's probably best if you keep it to the end of the night!

Price Range $20-28

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Intimate meal at Casa Ciuccio

I've mentioned before that M loves planning a surprise. He'll often tell me to 'save the date' in my diary for a night out but will refuse to give any more info besides that. Even when I beg him for info so I 'know what to wear' it's top secret!

Last weekend we had a date reserved in the diary and so we headed out on a lovely evening on the north side of the city. First we had a drink at Naked for Satan which is a great bar on Brunswick St that distills their own vodka and have little pintxos - there's always a great vibe there. Then we met some friends at the Johnston St fiesta and wandered around with them - it was packed and VERY difficult to resist the delicious looking selection of food with gorgeous paella and chorizo smells wafting around! We did have some very good sangria though!

Then we separated from our friends for our 8.30pm booking at the 'mystery restaurant and wandered a few blocks down, ending up at Casa Ciuccio on Gertrude St. This little restaurant was started by the crew who own Bar Lourinha, including Matt McConnell whose brother Andrew co-owns Cutler and Co, Cumulus, Golden Fields and The Builders Arms. M said he had to book about 6 weeks in advance as it's pretty popular.

We had a nice little perch at the tall table in the second room overlooking the long kitchen. I used to really dislike not having a proper table when we went out but I think I'm actually becoming quite partial to it. It's really fun being able to watch the chefs at work and it's actually quite intimate as you sit much closer to your partner than if there's a table between you.

First we started with the yellow fin tuna 'a la galena' and the mussels with chorizo. I'd really hoped for a raw tuna dish as I was quite in the mood for it, but the tuna came out cooked in a chunk with potato on the bottom. It was nice, although probably not my favourite. The mussels were ok too, the flavour was quite delicate but seemed to be missing the big chorizo hit.

Next we had the baccala croqueta which we both really loved. It was salty and hot with a crispy outside and gooey inside - delicious!

Then came the squid and chickpeas which had a really nice flavour and was quite juicy and saucy. Followed closely by the northern king prawn with smoked chilli and lemon which I really liked but M wasn't so sure about. The prawn was certainly huge but not super easy to get out of the shell - I saw another couple struggling a bit too. I really liked the charred flavour of the prawn though. M thought it was a bit of a rip off for $9 per prawn!

We had a slightly more substantial dish course after this - sharing the John Dory with yoghurt and sesame and the asparagus, broad bean and mascarpone salad. We both really loved these dishes - they went perfectly together. The delicate flavour in the yoghurt and sesame was gorgeous and earthy and the creaminess off the mascarpone perfectly set off the the tanginess in the dressing.

Finishing on dessert was certainly a good choice. We had been debating whether to order another serve of croqueta and the asparagus but settled instead on the dulce de leche cream pot with peanut praline and the chocolate bunuelos with hazelnut sauce. The chocolate bunuelos were kind of like a rustic doughnut, and they were good, but the absolute stand out was the cream pot! The texture was deliciously smooth and the peanut praline on top was incredibly moreish! We had to draw a line down the middle with a spoon as I think M and I could have had a pot each!

Overall we really loved Casa Ciuccio and will be back for sure! There's still heaps on the menu we haven't tried and I'll be back even if just for the dessert!

Casa Ciuccio on Urbanspoon

Kate eat-drink-dream

Friday, 23 November 2012

Refreshing Summer Cocktail

M whipped up this cocktail on a warm Saturday afternoon, we'd just finished doing some gardening and it was gorgeous sitting in the sun sipping this! It had a slight pink colour and the lemon was a beautiful splash of yellow!

  • 45ml Tanqueray Gin
  • Slice of fresh lemon
  • Tiro lemon lime & bitters
  • Ice

Pour 45ml of Tanqueray into a short glass, add 4 large ice cubes, place a slice of fresh lemon and top up to the brim with Trio lemon lime & bitters.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Footy grand final food!

Ok, so I know it's been a while since the footy grand final, but I had a minor tantrum and refused to blog until we got a new computer. Hence the delay in blog posts, but a much more pleasant and efficient way for me to write them - on a computer that actually works!

We had a few friends over to watch the grand final (AFL that is) and cooked up some 'footy food'. 

I made mini cheese and spinach pies (the same recipe as the one I posted here), and we tried out the pizza dough setting on our bread maker for the first time to make mini pizzas. I was on dough rolling duty and it seemed much easier to roll long skinny shapes than circles - so that's what they became! I call it rustic! M topped them with a mix of salami, tomato, olives, fetta, oregano and sundered tomato. They were delicious. I think next time we make them we'll get better at cooking them on the right temperature etc.

We brought the food out in two lots as the boys were pretty peckish after they came in from kicking the footy at half time out in the street!

Just a shame M's team didn't make it to the GF this year!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fresh asparagus and prawn spaghetti on a weeknight

While shopping the other day I saw beautiful fresh asparagus in the fruit and veg section - three bunches for a great price. And, asparagus being one of my favourite veggies, I picked three bunches up without any hesitation.

So during the week I knocked up this simple but delicious meal of asparagus, prawns and some pesto I made last summer from the freezer.

I don't think I even need to put the recipe in detail for this one, it's so simple. Saute some spring onions, add the prawns and pesto and continue cooking until prawns are done. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti and throw in the chopped asparagus about 4 mins before the end. Drain it, reserving a little pasta water then toss through with the prawn mixture, season with salt and plenty of pepper, adding the pasta water to loosen it up if need be. 

Enjoy - a great quick weekday meal!

Kate eat-drink-dream