Saturday, 29 December 2012

M's Wine Review - Le Chat Noir Sauvignon Blanc 2011

French wine. I'm new to it, having mainly grown up on Australian wine, the French though, they've been making it for ages and you can certainly taste the results in the produce! 

This is a sensational sauvignon blanc! It is different, very different, to Australian and New Zealand sauv blanc. At first glance the colour is darker, almost Chardonnay like, which is unusual as sauv blanc is usually a light coloured wine, an indication of the youthfulness of the picked grapes. A darker colour usually means the grapes have been picked when they're more ripe. 

This wine tastes complete, it has hints of honey, just a little bit of sweetness, plenty of fruit, some acidity but certainly nothing like what I'm used to with local sauv blancs. It is a more full and mature wine, which goes down too easily. It isn't as mineral in taste as New Zealand sauv blancs which suits me just fine.

I'm rating this one very highly, and it's made me want to try others from France! The uniqueness of the flavour is truly spectacular and most importantly delicious!

Price range $20-25

Friday, 21 December 2012

Hot pink beetroot risotto!

You might have seen my post on the first beetroot we harvested from the garden. Well, shortly after that and all of a sudden our beetroot seemed to be ready to eat - all of it! 

After a couple of roasted beet salads we were trying to think of another way to use them up. I remembered a friend, Jane, had made me a delicious beetroot and dill risotto for dinner a few months ago so thought I'd try a recipe inspired by this!

Jane's recipe called for juicing the beets and as we don't have a juicer I kinda improvised. I also couldn't be bothered pre-cooking the beetroot but needed to make sure the beets weren't still crunchy. I was cooking my risotto in our risotto maker too (I tend to use it for easy weeknight meals). So my strategy was to cut the beetroots up into very small cubes (around 1/2 cm) hoping they'd cook in around the same time as the rice. And, luckily, it worked!

The risotto was really flavoursome and I served it with some steamed asparagus and dill and yoghurt sauce. A nice simple meal!

Kate's version of beetroot and dill risotto
Serves 4

  • 1 x brown onion, chopped finely
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups of arborio rice
  • Dash of verjuice or white wine (optional)
  • 2-3 largish fresh beetroots, peeled and diced into 1/2 cm cubes
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 bunch of dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Yoghurt sauce
  • A few large spoons of greek yoghurt
  • Handful of dill, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil and a knob of butter until transparent.
  2. Add rice and stir to coat with oil, cook stirring for 3-4 mins.
  3. Add a dash of verjuice or white wine if you've got it (not super essential, but I had some in the fridge)
  4. Add cubed beetroot and stock. If using a risotto maker add all stock at once, if cooking on the stove add stock about a cup at a time as it absorbs.
  5. After about 15-20 mins stir through the dill.
  6. After about 30 mins both the rice and the beetroot should be cooked.
  7. Season and stir through additional stock or water if required to loosen.
  8. To make yoghurt sauce stir all ingredients together and add a little water to loosen.
  9. Serve risotto with yoghurt sauce and steamed asparagus.

Kate eat-drink-dream

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

M's wine review - Chateau Paul Mas Coteaux Du Languedoc

French wine is a bit foreign to me. We certainly don't drink a lot of it and tend to stick with Australian wine, however over the last few years it seems like French wine has become a lot more popular. This particular wine comes from the south west of France.

This wine is a SGM blend - 85% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 5% of Mourvèdre. It's not often you find this sort of blend, although I'm on the lookout, as the more of these I try, the more I like them. They're interesting, unique and really open up the flavour pallet.

I'm going to get straight to the point - I've tried 3 vintages of this wine over the last 12 months - and each has been excellent!

2006 - Wow! Very smooth, so easy to drink, plenty of flavour, great length, simply a pleasure. If you can find this vintage I'd pick it over other wines in the $50+ range as this wine is stunning!

2007 - Excellent, but not as smooth as the 2006. It certainly felt like a slightly different wine, perhaps not as refined as the previous - most likely a reflection of the growing season.

2010 - Fantastic! It's still a very young wine, but the structure, flavour, complexity is all there. I'm very keen to keep this vintage for another 4-5 years and see how it develops. If its anything like the 2006 (which on initial consumption seemed very similar) it will be outstanding!

I need to get a few more of these into the wine rack. They're certainly worth it!

BTW I love the "serious looking" French label!

Price range $16-20

Saturday, 15 December 2012

M's Wine Review - Intrepid Sauvignon Blanc 2011

This particular sauvignon blanc comes from the Awatere Valley in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Although I have to say that the large amount of sauvignon blanc coming out of this area has put me off buying this wine variety. To a certain extent this has been driven by the large amount of cheap and nasty "sav blanc" in the market, with my white wine buying in recent times more focused on rediscovering the riesling and chardonnay varieties. 

Nevertheless, I like a good sauv blanc, and one that jumps to mind which I reviewed last summer and really enjoyed is the Alan McCorkindale Sauvignon Blanc 2011 - it was fabulous!

One thing I've learned about sauv blancs is that they are much better if you keep them out of the fridge for around 10min before serving. As the temperature rises from the fridge level (usually 3-5 degrees) to around 7-9 degrees the flavour in the wine becomes a lot more pronounced. I'd stay away from warming it up beyond 10 degrees or more but that 7-9 range seems to be best!

I like this wine, it has the classic acidity that Sauvignon is known for; aromatic citrus, a honey like sweetness and a generous mid pallet aftertaste. It is very pleasant and easy to drink . It doesn't have that light mineral texture as some other wines in the range have but it certainly isn't heavy. My wife Kate says it is "sharp and crisp in a nice way, with citrus and even peppermint flavours" coming through.

I think this is a great value summer drop!

Price range $15-19

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A kitchen experiment - tandoori chicken pie

At my work we have a canteen on-site for employees only. Besides the couple of other cafes near where I am there's not much within walking distance so I'll often pop in to see what they're making. They put a menu up in our kitchen area at the start of each week so we know what's on offer - and a litte while ago the 'Tandoori Chicken Pie' caught my eye. It was surprisingly delicious, had great rich flavour, and when I was scoffing it down at my desk a few people asked about the delicious smell!

So I resolved to give a new pie variety a go! I make a decent pie, but only ever a couple of types and pies are so versatile that I don't know why I don't make them more often!

I cooked up this pie with onion, tandoori paste, chicken, mushroom and spinach and it worked surprisingly well! I didn't get it quite like the one at work, but it was certainly very tasty and richly flavoured. M insisted on putting tomato ketchup on it as he does with all pies - no matter the flavour!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sunday morning at Lip Cafe Ivanhoe

This morning we were having a lie in and M spontaneously said let's go out for brekkie. So we bundled into the car and drove the 2 mins down the road to Lip Cafe in Ivanhoe. It's a little place on Waterdale rd behind the main Ivanhoe strip that we've frequently driven past and thought we should try.

So we arrived to a bustling little cafe full of young families and nabbed the last table inside. Looking at the menu I was really excited about our meal. We were right next to the kitchen and I could see delicious looking brekkies emerging. 

I ordered the 'Salmon + Rosti', served with homemade beetroot relish, avocado and a poached egg and M had the 'Fez Lip', Moroccan beans, chorizo, fried egg and toast.

I was determined to like Lip, it had a great vibe, friendly staff, the food looked good... But when my meal arrived looking like the photo below, tiny, sparse and not very appetizing I was a bit disappointed. 'Oh well' I told myself, 'it might taste better than it looks'. The rosti was certainly very tasty I would have demolished one as a side but as the main part of the meal perhaps a little small, my poached egg was as poached eggs should be and my avocado was ripe. But that's about where it stopped... The beetroot relish was one of the strangest things I've tasted, I didn't like it at all, it tasted bland and not beetrooty, and the salmon tasted a bit strange... After my meal I was also not even close to full.

M's meal on the other hand arrived steaming hot and looking great. I tried some and had extreme food envy, it was lovely, mushy beans with great flavour and spicy crispy chorizo. The bread was great quality and M really enjoyed it. He kindly shared a couple of bites with me, lovely husband!

So, to summarise Cafe Lip: I was a bit disappointed, M liked it, but I think we'll still visit again and try something else off the menu. I do like to support local businesses and everyone deserves a second chance.

Kate eat-drink-dream

Lip Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A special meal for Mum's birthday

My parents live in another state, so I make sure I really appreciate the time I spend with them when I visit or when they come over here. This year I was lucky to have Mum and Dad with us in Melbourne for Mum's birthday. As I usually don't get to see her on her birthday I wanted to make it extra special for her, so planned a birthday dinner party with M and I, my sister, her son and Mum and Dad.

As it was a birthday celebration I wanted to make the table look really pretty - I love these red tea light candle holders and I picked up some gorgeous pink roses which looked really stunning with the candles at night.

For starters I did us some finger food that we could nibble on while we talked. I bought some beautiful fresh oysters from our local fishmonger and made rice paper rolls and thai fish cakes. I've made rice paper rolls a few times before and usually serve them with sweet chilli sauce, but this time I wanted to try to replicate the sauce you get with them when you buy them at the vietnamese shops. So I googled online to look at a few recipes and ended up making one from hoisin sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, oil and water and it worked really well! The entrees got gobbled up really quickly - can you believe my 7 year old nephew adores oysters!

For mains I did a squid ink risotto as I thought it'd be something a bit different - I've blogged about it here before (LINK). I served it with a side of roasted garlicky potatoes and roasted eggplant which I tossed together after they baked. I hadn't roasted eggplant before but it turned out really well - I coated it in olive oil, honey and red wine vinegar before roasting and it gave it a lovely sweet flavour.

We had a lovely night and I think the parents really enjoyed themselves - which is what matters!

Kate eat-drink-dream

Monday, 3 December 2012

First home grown beet!

I planted some beetroot in the garden a little while ago and have been eagerly watching it grow. As M will testify, I'm quite impatient sometimes and I kept pulling the leaves aside to see if the beetroot had grown yet. Again and again it still wasn't big enough to pick. Until last weekend, when I realised I had a number of fully grown beets ready to go!

I pulled this little beauty up in my excitement and it's now in the fridge waiting to be turned into delicious roasted beetroot salad!

Kate eat-drink-dream