Archive | November, 2010

Christmas at the Studio

27 Nov

This annual market, in a paddock surrounded by bush, is truly one of those little things that reminds me how lucky I am to be living here.

One grey old day, we went down the long & winding Bulldog Creek Rd, just past Foxeys Hangout (the place not the winery). Gumboots were de rigueur at this outing.

Two local artists, Flick Pope, jeweller, and Leisa Wharington, glass blower, share a studio in a cute mud brick cottage on a property in Merricks North.

Once a year, they invite other like-minded creators and throw open the doors paddock gate to the public to do their Christmas shopping.  I bought my Christmas gifts for myself from The Brewer and the Brewer’s Daughters, had them gift wrapped and feigned surprise & delight upon receiving them.

First stop, Lynley Northcotte, from Northcote! Lynley was making me 100 mediaeval chalices, due in a couple of days, to serve our Christmas Ale in. She did an amazing job of custom designing them and turning them around in a short time.  Here is her range, the reds were striking.

Marnie, who I know from the kids school, makes these gorgeous creations.  I bought 2 and most of my friends did too. Clever girl, and she wonders why anyone would want to take a picture!

The diversity and originality of the artists there is incredible. I was captivated by the rainbow of colours against the grey/green background of the bush.

Fairies anyone?

More rainbows. Rings, you wouldn’t want to do the dishes wearing them, I think I should keep one on forever.

The Chook Leaf shoes are gorgeous for the kids, made by a friend of my sisters, they have graced the feet of one of the Brewer’s Daughters and they are just fantastic shoes

Cheese / cutting boards made from recycled wine barrels.  On the reverse of each one is the timber is stained from the wine. Mum. Tick.

Wreaths and large garden ornaments made from grape vine cuttings.

My special treat was some beautiful earrings from Mary Odorcic. Most of her silver jewellery features a matt finish with in organic shapes.

The inside of the cottage was laden with the most beautiful glass creations.


Rainbow colours and gumboots

Food, coffee & maybe even some wine is available on the day.  Bulldog Creek Road, Merricks.

Usually held on the last weekend in November, I will try and remember to re-post this post (is that possible) around then.


Dinner Club ~ A Middle Eastern Feast

27 Nov

The conveners and inaugural hosts of our dinner club… Joe and Dee, have a deep passion for authentic food and superb wines. We have been delighted many times by the smallgoods & pickles Joe brings home from his Italian family, and gorged on Dee’s abundant Middle Eastern feasts. Their combined Israeli – Italian backgrounds mean that even the smallest catchup revolves around a banquet.

So Dinner Club with Joe & Dee is a guaranteed feast of food and wine. It all started beautifully on a balmy night overlooking the hill & the bay at sunset.

The Menu
Beef Carpaccio & radish remoulade
Ravioli w spiced lamb mince caramelised onions & pinenuts
18hour Goat, flame roasted eggplant, cardamon & honey yoghurt
Pomegranate & snake bean freekah salad
Main Ridge Dairy goats curd tarlet w cardomon & vanilla apricot icecream

Joe is also our inhouse wine guy. Some superb wines were selected to accompany this feast, Pizzini Nebbiolo, Vajra Langhe Rosso and Crianza Rioja.

This Dinner Club was so beautiful and abundant, but I was really disappointed in my ability to get nice photos. It inspired me to think a little more about the way I take photos, in the hope I could do the people and food justice.

A Lazy Long Lunch

17 Nov

Just for fun, a girlfriend and I decided to go out for a spontaneous lunch. No husbands, kids, friends, or time constraints.  I had been wanting to do this at Foxeys Hangout for nearly 2 years!

My Lunch

There was much excitement in cellar door, as less than 12 hours before, brothers Michael & Tony had returned from the Royal Melbourne Wine Show where their 2009 shiraz had just snaffled the Premiers Trophy for best victorian red wine. A shiraz! From the Peninsula! A big coup. To say they were happy would be an understatement. Usually fairly reserved fellows, they were like kids on a sugar high.

The award

We sat down, and ordered….. coffee! Anyone who reads Tony’s columns in Epicure about running a winery, would remember one particularly notorious article about his aversion to serving people a coffee unless they were in for the wine. Don’t tell anyone, but they were good.


We then did what they do best, which was sit back, and get fed. No decisions, no interruptions to conversation. The plates just kept arriving, with 2 of everything until we had done them all. Everything is simple, fresh and just perfect for a slow moving lunch.  Here they are….

The asaparagus with blood orange was exceptionally pretty

My personal favourite was the tuna bresaola with radicchio & pear.

We loved the spicy meatballs

then tomatoes, quail & avocado….

Of course we had wine… most of them in fact, Rose, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the award winning shiraz. Everything except the sparkling wines, and I don’t know why we skipped them.  Lastly we went dessert, like a vanilla icecream maxibon, with chocolate sauce that oozed all over it.  Tony plonked a bottle of late harvest pinot gris on the table to try with it. It is a gorgeous wine.  It is quite unique for wineries on the Peninsula to have a sticky style wine, more should.

We caught an hour or two of sunshine which was a pretty rare sighting over the last few months. There is a spacious deck outside, which has no furniture, but is a lovely place to sit and ponder the view.  The little boxes along the edges are perfect for some nibbles & a glass of wine. Idyllic.  Whilst taking it all in, the two happy & tired brothers took a moment to do the same.  This is one of my favourite places on the Peninsula, I think because they are completely hands on and passionate about what they do.  Also, they do not try to please everyone and are not apologetic about this. They have their vision, they stick to it, and it works.  I was lucky to get the chance to completely indulge in their experience, with a good friend and it worked. Thanks.

Foxey's Hangout on Urbanspoon

A tourist in my city – Spice Temple and The Waiting Room

5 Nov

I love being a tourist in Melbourne. We have lived away from the city for over 10 years now, but it still feels like my city. We don’t need to sightsee, just eat and drink.  The diversity of suburbs, the creativity of every place is like fuel for me, it is inspirational and I come home feeling energised and excited. This was one good 24 hours which also included Pope Joan in East Brunswick and North South Eatery in Richmond.  Just for fun.

Regular followers on Twitter would know that The Brewer is something of a master Sichuan cook.  We eat it about 4 times a week. So Spice Temple is something of a holy grail. We were there within a couple of weeks of it opening. We all met up in The Waiting Room,  another brand spanking new venue from the prolific Rockpool empire. Unbelievably sparkly and opulent, bling bling bling, I needed a lot more on me to fit in here!

The drinks list is, of course, spectacular.  Cocktails seemed appropriate here, I ordered a Queen of Diamonds Campari, Gin, Rosemary and Thyme Vermouth.

Then we meandered around the corner to Spice Temple.  We were a group of 5, which is a perfect size as everything on the menu is for sharing, so we were able to share about 10 dishes.  If we were just 2ppl, we may have felt challenged by only being able to order/eat a couple of dishes.

It is dark in there, really dark, like I had to feel my way along the walls to get to the bathrooms.  I suggest wearing a miners lamp!  Hence my pics are very dim. We started with the Tingling Prawns, not so spicy but beautiful fresh flavours.

Tingling Prawns

One of our favourite dishes was the hot & numbing dry wagyu beef.  The Brewer has mastered this dish himself, but this one was exceptional.  the texture of it, more shredded than sliced, really made it into something special.

The Kung Pao chicken was another dish that holds a special place in our heart, a recipe for this by Kylie Kwong in her My China book was one of the first we found and successfully made. 

One of the more interesting dishes was the spicy stir fried quail, peanuts & egg custard.  Amazing textures again.

One of the hottest dishes was this tofu in chilli sauce

The dish of the night was the Hunan style pork belly, crispy, melt in the mouth, spicy on piles of tiny sliced beans.

My dining companions, also ordered most of the sweets, which were very beautiful, especially the rose granita, and this one with iranian fairy floss on top. I am not much of a dessert person, and I am informed they were amazing!

A gorgeous night, we felt very glamourous. It was a very special night out.

A comment on the beer list.  The Waiting Room had 10 beers, a nice mix including some Victorian craft beers and interesting imports.  However 9 of them were lagers.  A little diversity in the styles would be appreciated by enthusiasts, but for the majority, it looks interesting.

At the Spice Temple fewer beers, but a craft brewed hefeweizen and the chinese Tsing Tao are good additions to a short but quality list.

Beer summary: Thoughtful, short, mostly lagers

Spice Temple on Urbanspoon