Sunday, December 16, 2007

RESTAURANT: Chan’s Garden

Type: Chinese, Asian
Location: 78 Burwood Rd, Burwood
Booking Required: Sometimes

I went here months ago. So why not do a review now? Sure, okay.

Not a lot to write home about. It’s a fairly standard suburban Chinese joint. Bigger than the norm and nicely laid out.

The service was a little patchy, with dishes either taking too long to arrive or all arriving at once. But it was friendly throughout.

Most importantly, the food. Quite good, but lacking anything special. We had a pretty wide selection and nothing jumped out at me too much.

If I lived in Burwood I’d get takeaway from this place, but I can’t see myself going there to dine again. Especially with so many other interesting Asian places in Burwood begging to be tried. And I certainly haven't felt any pangs to return in the months since I first visited.

RATING: Will probably not return to

Chans Garden on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 15, 2007

WINE: JACQUESSON Avize Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 1996

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $140

The NV from Jacquesson impressed me enough to go out and try this. Quite glad I did.

From the moment this is poured you can see it’s going to be creamy and full of honey-like flavours. But there is a lot more than meets the eye with this one. Along with the honey are some delicious fruits like lemon and peach, a bit of nut and a toasty edge.

It’s REALLY foamy at the moment, so it could use a few years to cellar, but then it is going to be a fantastic wine.

Beautiful finish. I was still tasting it for a long time after the last drop had gone.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

RECIPE: The 12 Animal Pizza

I'm trying to champion the cause of extreme cooking. We have slow food, where the aim is to cook and savour food slowly, and I think extreme food fills the niche where every item made is an affront to God and every bite consumed is a triumph of human spirit.

This has led to the 12 Cheese Pizza and the 16 Chocolate Cheesecake (can't be bothered linking them, sorry) and now... the 12 Animal Pizza

- Pizza dough (recipe stolen from Not Quite Nigella)
- 12 animals (cow, pig, chicken, turkey, lamb, buffalo, duck, quail, crocodile, kangaroo, venison and poussin)
- Pizza sauce
- Cheese
- Some herbage (garlic, oregano)

Make a pizza from the above ingredients.

The key to getting a crispy base is to make your pizza on baking paper, then slide it onto a tray that has already been in the oven on a high heat (around 220).

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Type: Japanese
Location: Level 1, 90 Hay St, Haymarket
Booking Required: Rarely.

I very nearly didn’t go here. Someone had recommended it to Calypso and we were totally stumped trying to find it. Surely it’s not accessed by this extremely dodgy looking freight lift?

It is.

But once we got out of the creepy lift and got into the restaurant all was well. It’s actually an extremely handsome restaurant for what is essentially a ramen joint. Nice floors, nice tables, a little rock garden sort of thing running through the restaurant, tiers. Nice.

We got into gyoza and their special ramen. All was very tasty. I wouldn’t say exceptional, but very solid and well priced. In a nice, comfortable, relaxed setting this all adds up to a good meal.

They also have a store in Bondi which is apparently better, and I’ve heard there is another store somewhere. No idea where.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Ramen-Kan on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Type: Indian
Location: Morts Road, Mortdale
Booking Required: Sometimes

Ah, the old local Indian joint. Many splendid take-aways and many delicious dine-ins have been had over the last few years here.

Sadly, moved away from there and haven’t had it for many months. Still, the memories live on.

Memories of perfectly spiced onion baji with cooling mint sauce, of one of the best butter chickens around, of the legendary dahl of the day, the sensational lamb saag and of the countless other curries that impressed.

The best Indian restaurant in the region that I’ve had, and definitely up there with some of the best in Sydney I’ve had.

RATING: Will return to

Saturday, October 27, 2007

EVENT: The Sydney Food and Wine Fair 2007

October 27, 2007
Hyde Park, Sydney

Once again we find ourselves at the end of another Sydney Good Food Month, finishing up with the Sydney Food and Wine Fair. And this year it's a monster. Top names like Longrain, Spice I Am, Otto, Lucio's, Flying Fish, Salon Blanc, Becasse and many many more rocked up to showcase their stall-ly ways on the day.

And what a fantastic day it turned out to be. The coupon system they used, which involved queueing up to buy coupons which is what the stalls accepted, worked perfectly and meant that there was only a lengthy wait for a couple of the more popular stalls.

Sydney put on a gloriously sunny day too, which provided the perfect backdrop for the food aromas and live music that drifted around and mingled.

While the wine on offer wasn't that great (as expected really), the food certainly was. Becasse offered a delicious chunk of smoked trout with tea vinaigrette and radish salad, Longrain made the long wait at their stall worth it with a perfectly tangy BBQ pork noodle salad, bill's offered a pretty handsome looking berry pavlova. Long lines also made their way out of Lucio's for the roasted quail and Bourke St Bakery who were offering some awesome looking pastries that disappeared after only an hour.

There was temptation all round and the only way to survive the day was to be brutal with how you spent your hard earned money... err... coupons.

Great food, great weather, nice location, not too much hassle, good value and all for a good cause. I don't know what more anyone could possibly want.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $320

Cristal has been something I’ve wanted to try for a very long time. So it was good that I finally got the chance with a bottle to accompany a fantastic meal of various foods from the wonderful David Jones Food Hall.

A mid straw colour that shows it’s youth but also hints at the big flavours in the glass. Fine mousse and bead as you’d expect. Big, great nose. An explosion of bread, dough, vanilla, flower, orange and nuts. Wow it’s good. And it follows through to the palate which is really rich on the honey, lemon and baked fruits. Super creamy. It still tastes tight, so I’d love to come back in about 10 years to get this, but it’s still fantastic right now. It’s not perfect, but damn it ticks a lot of boxes.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $70

The NV Rose by Billecart-Salmon is my favourite NV Rose by a long way. It’s a really excellent wine with a great style to it. The Brut NV, however, has always fallen a bit short for me. It has a great style to it but there’s just something lacking with it.

Pale straw in colour. That great mousse and bead which is fine but doesn’t persist for too long this time. This tasting was from a half bottle so that may have been responsible. Aromas of honey and citrus. Nice flavours of apple, citrus and honey. Creamy texture. Looking great so far, but then the finish lets it down a little.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a really good non-vintage champagne. It’s just not great.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

WINE: WITHER HILLS Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Type: White, Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: Marlborough, New Zealand
Approx Cost: $25

Another Malrborough Sav Blanc. Let’s roll with it.

Pale straw in colour. The palate is pretty full on. Spicy oak, buckets of limey citrus, a bit of foliage and a lot of tartness.

This was a bit too tart and vibrant for my liking.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Type: Sparkling white
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $15

The only sparkling white that Bimbadgen make across all of their ranges, if I’m not mistaken. But whatever, I’m always keen to try a new sparkling wine that I haven’t had before. And a sparkling semillon. Awesome.

Surprisingly medium-fine mousse and bead. The bead dies out pretty quickly which isn’t a great sign. Pale straw in colour, but it looks a little weak. Palate is a bit boring. Heavy with the lime and a background of lemon. Some floral notes in there. Toasty. But a really weak, unrefined finish.

It’s good for the price, but it certainly doesn’t compete with many things above that price range.


Friday, October 05, 2007


Type: Fortified, Muscat
Origin: Rutherglen, Victoria
Approx Cost: $30

The muscat ride continues with one of Australia’s best known wineries.

Brown amber with green edges and gold flecks. Very tasty. Brown sugar, sultana, fruit pudding, caramel. Nice, lingering finish.

It’s not exceptional, but it’s very nice and fantastic value.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

WINE: MORRIS Liqueur Muscat NV

Type: Fortified, Muscat
Origin: Rutherglen, Victoria
Approx Cost: $20 (500 ml)

Finally stop on the Morris fortified train and we’re left standing at muscat station. I quite like muscats so I was looking forward to this.

Reddy-gold amber. Nice flavours of orange, marmalade and raisin. Nice finish, but it’s a little hollow.

Really good for an entry level muscat, but lacking anything exceptional to take it up. Still, I know I’d get it again when on the lookout for a cheap muscat.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

WINE: BROKENWOOD Semillon 2005

Type: White, Semillon
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $25

Very clear gold. Almost transparent. Inviting nose. Crisp citrus flavours and some creamy oak in the background and a little grass.

It’s refreshing, no fuss and good value. I like it.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

WINE: BEELGARA ESTATE “Bianca” Sun Dried Botrytis Semillon 2004

Type: Dessert, Sweet, White
Origin: Riverina, NSW
Approx Cost: $20 (375ml)

My purchase of this wine has somehow entered the folklore of this house and my housemates will not let up about it. “Apparently” the chick (who looked like an elf) that sold it to me was trying to crack on to me (running game pretty hard), but I was taking no notice as I was too consumed with the case of port under the counter or, as one housemate thought, I was staring at the floor.

But what I do recall of that evening was her saying that this was a very nice drop. And I’d tend to agree. I have no idea if it was actually “sun dried” more than a normal sweet Semillon, but it did look and taste a lot more concentrated than normal. Nice nose. Palate was a good mix of apple, citrus, orange, marmalade and sultana. All flavours were very intense. And I think that’s what let it down. It was a very tasty wine, but the flavours were a little out of balance. I wouldn’t regret buying it, but at the price there is a lot of strong(er) competition.

Like my chance at love, my rating for this wine was misplaced that night. But from memory it was around...


Monday, September 17, 2007

WINE: MORRIS Liqueur Tawny Port NV

Type: Fortified, Tawny port
Origin: Rutherglen, Victoria
Approx Cost: $20 (500 ml)

Part two of the three part exploration into Morris’ entry level fortified wines. This stop takes us to tawny port country, which is probably my least favourite compared to muscat and the delicious tokay.

Pale, dark amber in colour. That sounds like a contradiction but I swear it isn’t. Although this wine did perplex me somewhat. Smokey and hot. The alcohol doesn’t hide as well as the other Morris wines. Palate of spiced wood, floral characters and burnt palm sugar. Lacking a little depth and didn’t last too well after a couple of days.

It’s really nice, but not great.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

WINE: OYSTER BAY Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Type: White, Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: Marlborough, New Zealand
Approx Cost: $20

This is probably the ultimate chick wine at the moment. NZ Sav Blancs are just ridiculously popular with the fairer sex right now. But that’s neither here nor there.

Light gold with green edges. This is a textbook sav blanc on the palate. A lot of citrus at the start with lemon and orange rind. That makes way for guava, sharp floral and gardeny flavours, with a bit of oak at the end. A long, creamy finish.

It’s good, it’s clean, it’s sharp. But it just didn’t knock me over.


Sunday, September 09, 2007


Type: Sparkling red
Origin: Barossa Valley, South Australia
Approx Cost: $20

I’ve wanted to try this for quite a while, and managed to get my hands on a bottle last weekend to enjoy with some Mexican food.

Medium-fine mousse and bead. Bead dies off pretty quickly, as most reds tend to. Tasty though. Strawberry, blueberry and blackberry. With all that fruit it’s no surprise that this is a very refreshing, light and juicy sparkling wine.

It’s not in the upper level of sparkling reds being produced in this country, but it’s a great, refreshing wine at an irresistible price.


Thursday, September 06, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $200

Veuve Clicquot have brought out a couple of cellar-aged releases this year. The 88 Brut and the 85 Rose. I decided to get one.

Despite consuming many champagnes and a fair few decent bottles in my (short) time, this is the first champagne I’ve ever had that has any sort of age to it. And what a revelation it was.

Fine, light mousse. Superfine bead that died out quickly. Light gold in colour. Interest and inviting nose of honey, apricot and nuts. Great palate of wild honey, caramelised citrus and orange rind. Sweet, toasty finish that is nice but a little off.

It was such a great experience, but it wasn’t an extraordinary wine.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

WINE: MORRIS Liqueur Tokay NV

Type: Fortified, Tokay
Origin: Rutherglend, Victoria
Approx Cost: $20

I have so many tasting notes scattered on my desk it’s starting to get annoying. They’re on envelopes, receipts and on the back of shopping lists. Hell, I even have some typed into my phone when I can’t find a pen and paper.

But on with the show. And what a show! This is a bloody brilliant drop which gave me no end of pleasure. Morris are absolute legends at making fortifieds in Australia, but this still surprised me.

A fine but rich amber with gold and green edges. Incredible flavours of caramel, raisin, smokey malt and toffee. Delicious finish with the perfect amount of acidity that sits perfectly on the palate.

This is great. A textbook example of what an entry level tokay should taste like. Fortifieds might not be very popular anymore, but if the product was all like this then I’m sure it would change.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

WINE: COOKOOTHAMA Botrytis Semillon 2005

Type: Sweet White, Dessert
Origin: Riverina, NSW (?)
Approx Cost: $25

Yum. Time to drink another dessert wine. It really is the sweetest time of the week.

Golden amber colour. Fruity nose. Palate is great. Caramelised lemons, oranges and pears; citrus peel. A little different to the normal dessert wines in that it has a real sour tang to it. But what makes it unique also holds it back a bit. It’s curious and inviting, but just a bit too much.

Still, while there are other wines similar to this that I probably prefer, this was extremely tasty and I could see myself going back for more.


Sunday, August 19, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $60

My first encounter with Pommery if I’m not mistaken.

Gold with a hint of green in colour. Average mousse, bead is medium-fine and persists well. So-so palate of lime, lemon and a lot of creamy, yeasty, toasty notes. Decent depth and length on the finish.

It’s okay, but really nothing special. Perhaps it’s because it’s an almost even mix of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinor meuniere grapes that always seems to fall short. Can't see myself going back to try more Pommery for a while.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

WINE: SEIFRIED Riesling Ice Wine 2006

Type: Ice wine, dessert, sweet white
Origin: New Zealand
Approx Cost: $30 (375ml)

For those that don’t know, ice wines are something like the freak of the wine community. The grapes are left to freeze on the vine so the sugars intensify, then it gets picked. The picking needs to be timed perfectly, and because it has to be done in near freezing temperatures you don’t see too many ice wines on the market.

I’ve wanted to try one for ages, and this one was my first. Splendid. I couldn’t wait to crack it. So I didn’t wait.

Pale gold in colour. Not as intense as a normal dessert wine and much less viscous. Great palate. Great great great. Citrus, tart green apples, rich honey and nice a floral edge. Not as cloying as a fortified or botrytis. Very smooth finish.

This is towards the lower end of the ice wine market, but I enjoyed it so much that I think I might go for one of the more expensive options.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

RESTAURANT: Narita Teppanyaki

Type: Japanese/Teppanyaki
Location: 78-86 Harbour St, Sydney
Booking Required: Usually

Fuck, I went to this place so long ago. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get around to typing up the review. I’ll be surprised if I remember it accurately. Actually, I won’t be that surprised because I HAVE THE MEMORY OF A CHAMP.

You enter this place that sits opposite the Entertainment Centre, walk up a flight of stairs and find a new world. A world of barbeques, of wood, of brick, of flying food. It was my first teppanyaki experience and I was transfixed.

A lot of the appeal of teppanyaki seems to lie in the spectacle. The only thing that separates you from the chef—YOUR chef—is a fiery hotplate. Our chef stood there that night and cook a variety of tasty treats on his hotplate, periodically throwing things at us, while we sat their, drank Japanese beer and watched.

The food isn’t outstanding. It really is just food cooked on a BBQ with basic seasoning. It’s not the place to come to find innovative cooking techniques, amazing flavour combinations or hidden sauces. It’s all there in front of you, cooking on the hotplate.

Service was patchy, but we still had fun. It’s strange to see people I’m dining with get behind the hotplate and cook things or throw eggs at me. Strange but fun. With a big crowd this place would go off.

Prices weren’t as high as I was expecting and portions not as small. For about $40 a head we were very well fed. Still, while the spectacle of it all was good, the food wasn’t great. I’d go back with a dozen or so mates for a fun night, but not with one or two people.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Sunday, August 05, 2007

WINE: RUINART Blanc de Blancs NV

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $115

My first taste of something from the world’s first champagne house. Where better to start but with a lovely blanc de blanc, my favourite type of sparkling.

Attractive packaging with a clear, UV-resistant bottle. Not a lot of colour in the packaging. An albino bottle perhaps.

Light gold in colour. Medium mousse, persistent bead that isn’t as fine as I would expect. But all that matters is what’s inside, and it has some excellent flavours. Apricot, honey and a slight nuttiness. Good, clean finish that rounds everything off and shows a lot of depth.

It’s a very nice champagne, but not quite exceptional.


Monday, July 23, 2007


Type: White
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $18

I enjoy Bimbadgen’s wines for some reason. They’re never spectacular, but they’re solid for the price. Maybe it’s just my adoration for their Botrytis Semillon that causes it.

This one is quite nice. Very “alive” palate of mango, fruits from trees and grass. It’s quite refreshing and crisp and goes down well.

Lacks the depth of a quality wine, but not bad value at under $20.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

WINE: COLDSTREAM HILLS Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Type: Red
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $25

This bottle sat around for fucking ages. Most of the wine I get is turned over pretty quickly, but this has sat idle in my box for two months, collecting dust. Probably because I’ve gone off Cab Savs lately, and I’m still angry at it because I wanted the Pinot Noir but they didn’t have it. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE PINOT?

But it’s all good, friends. Deep crimson purple. Nice dark, fruity aroma. Tasty palate of plums, blueberries, earth, dark chocolate and a tiny amount of oak and spice. Excellent length on the finish, the the berry flavours lingering for ages.

I think the RRP for this wine is around the $30, but it’s sold in a lot of places for under $20. At that price it’s awesome value. Coldstream Hills are a pretty steady producer, and this is no exception. My Cab Sav blues are cured.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Type: Japanese
Location: 347 Kent St, Sydney (enter via King St)
Booking Required: Rarely

With the obligatory miso soup out of the way, the was only one thing on our mind: THE SUPER COMBO ($60). The only combo that sounds better would be the AWESOME NUMBER ONE COMBO but they don’t appear to have this option at Akaneya, a mid-range Jap eatery between Town Hall and Darling Harbour.

But the super combo was a great way of sampling a lot of everything upon my first visit here. It comes loaded with sushi, sashimi, teriyaki chicken, chicken katsu and tempura stuff. You’d be a fool to order anything else! Intended for 2-3 people (closer to 3), Calypso and I powered through this, enjoying the nice tastes on offer.

The service wasn’t really there, but we didn’t need it. Our food was brought quickly and with a smile. They were right to leave us to our own devices and not bother us.

It might not be the most amazing value, but the food is definitely passable and a step above many other places. Nice décor too.

I was very unsure what to rate this, but I think I’ll settle on a…

RATING: Okay, may go back

Akaneya Japanese on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 07, 2007

RESTAURANT: Diethnes Greek Restaurant

Type: Greek
Location: 336 Pitt St, Sydney
Booking Required: Sometimes

With the amount of wine reviews lately you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d given up on leaving the house, preferring to stay home and drink. Not quite.

I was stunned when Calypso suggested this place. Gobsmacked. We’re cursed when it comes to Greek food, you see. Every meal together at a Greek restaurant has been seriously flawed. I think we pissed off a Greek gypsy or something. Are there even Greek gypsies?

Anyway, we headed to this place with a couple of old acquaintences from way back in high school on a chilly Thursday evening for a bit of lamb and dip and bread and whatever it is that those Greeks make.

First thing that hit me was how shit the place looked. Really awful décor. Apparently the place has been going for 50 years. I don’t think it’s been done up since 1970, such was the feel of the place, that can only be described as “brown” and “faux wood”.

Getting past that, we order the banquet and hit up a nice bottle of shiraz. Off to a decent start with some nice stuffed vine leaves and tasty haloumi. The other starters were good but hardly great.

Another bottle of shiraz and we’re ready for the mains. Okay squid, nice octopus, homely moussaka and tasty but, again, homely, slow baked lamb. A pretty average dessert and a coffee round off the meal.

I really wanted to like this place. The staff seem really friendly and eager, the prices are very good, people seem to be enjoying themselves here and the food has a real homemade feel to it. But the décor and lack of spark in the food just didn’t do it for me.

RATING: Will probably not return to

Diethnes on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Type: Red
Origin: Coonawarra, SA
Approx Cost: $20

Coonawarra are doing quite well for themselves these days, with a lot of good labels producing great reds. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.

Some people may like the taste of stewed plums, but I do not. There’s a touch of pepper and oak in the background but it’s really nominal. Decent length on the finish, but it’s of stewed plums.

Not for me.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

VARIOUS: End of Financial Year Excess

Working in a bank means that the End of Financial Year brings on a massive rush of people wanting shit. On those last two days, we’re literally twice as busy as normal (according to the stats). Considering that we’re normally working flat out as it is, these last days and hours involve a massive effort from all involved. After last year I learned that on that final evening you have to unwind in a massive way. So I thought what the fuck I’ll get some Krug.

But then one thing led to another and I found myself knocking back quite a lot of food and wine with Calypso, pretty much going through what I had on hand. Let me tell you about it, friends, in order that I tasted.

KRUG Grande Cuvee MV

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $250

I don’t quite know why Krug call their NV an MV (Multi-Vintage), when nearly all Non-Vintages are made from Multiple Vintages. Maybe they just want to be special.

The Grande Cuvee is made by blending fifty of more wines from 20-25 vineyards and 6-10 different years. The result is one of the most exceptional and individual non-vintage wines out there.

The first thing you notice when you pour it is that this wine is a technical masterpiece. It’s a glorious bright, light gold in colour, with a fine, creamy mousse and a fine, persistent bead. I could watch it for hours if I didn’t want to taste it so bad. Mmm yeah it’s good. It packs a nice punch on the palate with some powerful, yet delicate flavous. A lot of nut and toast. Very creamy texture. I don’t know the balance of the grapes but it tastes more on the Pinot Noir side. The finish is just incredible. Lasts for ages and opens up even more.

Now here’s the problem. This wine is damn good, without question. It’s the best NV I’ve ever had. BUT I don’t know if I enjoy as much as I should for the price. If this was $100-$150 then it would be fantastic and I’d constantly drink it (when I had money). But at $250 I’m not convinced that it has the goods. Considering that Dom and La Grande Dame cost the same, I don’t prefer this over Dom. And my rating reflects that.

Still, extremely happy that I had it and now I see why Krug is King.


MAJELLA Sparkling Shiraz 2004

Type: Sparkling Red:
Origin: Coonawarra, South Australia
Approx Cost: $35

A few weeks ago I found out that they make some of this vintage under crown seal. I was determined to get some, so get some I did.

It’s all pretty similar to the cork version (or is it Diam? I can’t remember) but there are differences. The berries don’t taste as overripe under crown seal, and the minty notes at the end aren’t there this time. A lot more blueberry in this one, it really comes to the front.

Still awesome.


LILLYDALE ESTATE Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Type: White
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $17

Bit of a random pickup. Turned out well.

Light gold with a bit of green in there. Palate of pineapple, passionfruit, strawberry, citrus and oak. Finish of grass and unripe fruits.

It’s nice and fruity. Nothing exceptional about it, but a solid, good value Sav Blanc. A bit too oaky and grassy for my tastes though.


MEEREA PARK Shiraz Viognier 2005

Type: Red
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $17

Calypso and I both enjoy the Shiraz Viognier blends, so there was a bit of interest over this one, with neither of us having tried it before.

More transparent crimson purple than I was expecting. Quite nice. Ripe plum, blackberry, blueberry, apricot, stone fruit and a bit of spice at the end. Fine, fine tannins.

Only 5% Viognier in this, but it’s very well balanced. Initially it was average, but it opened up nicely with some time in the glass. A very good value Hunter Shiraz Viognier.



Already reviewed


THE GLENLIVET 18 yo Single-Malt Scotch

Type: Single-Malt
Origin: Speyside, Scotland
Approx Cost: $80

Ahhh a lovely finish to the evening.

Deep amber with gold touches. Heavy nose of nuts, flowers, oak and a slight sweetness. Starts off sweet then introduces flowers, nuts, stone fruits, a little peatiness, before it finishes of dry and spicy.


An enjoyable evening.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Type: Fortified
Origin: Riverina, NSW
Approx Cost: $30 (375ml)

Now this is interesting! Made from botrytis Semillon, but tastes unlike any other botrytis Semillon that I’ve had.

Deep amber and maple in colour. Nose is a lovely maple and caramel. The palate is wonderful. Maple syrup, smoke, coffee, caramalised fruits (peaces, orange, pears) and toffee. Viscous and sweet. Lovely sweet finish that lingers for ages.

It doesn’t have that “wow” factor but it’s damn nice and well worth picking up.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WHISKEY: Lagavulin 16yo

Type: Single Malt
Origin: Isle of Islay, Scotland
Approx Cost: $95

After toying with the idea for months, I finally stepped out and purchased a bottle of single malt scotch. My choice was the result of a fair bit of research. I didn't want to drop too much money on a shit whiskey. I also wanted a good introduction to the world of ballsy single malt scotches. Lagavulin 16yo appeared to be the best by a mile. Talking to customers at the restaraunt I used to work at, as well as customers at the bottle shop I currently work at, they hold generally hold Lagavulin as the one to beat. Michael Jackson's guide to Single Malts gave it a 93/100.

Anyway, today I decided to have a shot after lunch to celebrate the end of exams and after having a pretty wack cold today's the first day I can fully appreciate it. The nose is nice, with sherry and vanilla with a bit of saltyness. The colour is a rich amber. On the palete it's smooth, almost buttery, with nice controlled heat. Cigar and earthy flavours with saltyness and long smooth vanilla finish. It's the only whiskey I've been able to drink without adding a dash of water or a block of ice. Really really nice. I guess that's what 16 years does to it.


Monday, June 25, 2007

WINE: BAY OF FIRES ‘Tigress’ Sparkling Rose NV

Type: Sparkling Rose
Origin: Tasmania
Approx Cost: $20

I don’t mind the Bay of Fires sparkling wines so I picked this up on a bit of a whim. Not sure why, since the Bay of Fires sparklings I’ve had so far weren’t great and rose sparklings always underwhelm. But I have it now so I may as well taste it.

Light copper pink in colour. Fine mousse and medium bead which lasts well. Palate of mandarin, green apple, citrus and mushrooms. Light and crisp tasting, with a decent length.

As with the other Bay of Fires wines, it’s good but far from great.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $80

When I die I want to have my coffin engraved like the bottle of the Perrier Joeut Belle Epoque. I think that’s a reasonable request.

After going off them for a while, I’ve come back to non-vintage Champagnes in a big way. It’s getting a bit trickier, since I’ve tried most of the easily available ones, but dammit I’m trying.

Picked this up after seeing it on the cheap at the lovely David Jones wine store in the Food Hall thingy. Normally their mark-up is too ambitious for me, but with a discount it brings the price back into line a little.

Deep gold in colour. Mousse and bead are a bit out of wack, medium mousse and the bead dies a bit too quickly. I don’t think it’s really at it’s best. Nice palate of citrus and apples. Very toasty and creamy. Finish of brioche.

This isn’t really my sort of style of champagne. After another look at the bottle I wasn’t really surprised to see that it is dominated by Pinot Noir grapes with only a little Chardonnay in there (less than Pinot Meuniere even), which I don't usually go crazy over.

The Belle Epoque has a bit more Chardonnay in there, so I might give that a go, but I won’t be coming back to this NV.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

RECIPE: Chicken Majadra

I based this on a recipe I had for Majadra, a fairly traditional lentil and rice dish for Jewish people or Greeks of Lebanese or something. Dunno, didn’t research it. Anyway, it’s bloody good.


  • 400g lentils (brown or green), cooked and drained (note: that’s 400g AFTER cooking and draining)
  • 2-3 cups of whole, long grain rice, cooked as per packet with chicken stock
  • About 1 litre of chicken stock for the rice
  • The meat of 1 Portuguese chicken with chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • ½ tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 cup of parsley, chopped
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • The good thing about this dish is that it’s so easy. You just need to get everything read, then chuck it together. So first off, get your rice cooking as per the packet instructions. This takes the longest to cook so you can get everything else ready while it goes.
  • Throw the sliced onions and glove of garlic into a pan and fry with some olive oil until golden, set aside on a paper towel.
  • While the onions and rice cook, take the meat off your chicken (I find it easier to buy one from a local chicken joint and just strip it down), chop your parsley and drain the lentils (canned is easy because lentils are a cunt to cook).
  • With the rice ready, it’s time to rock. Heat up a wok with a bit of olive oil, put the rice in, then the chicken, the lentils, the cumin, paprika and some pepper and salt. You shouldn’t need too much salt, but add plenty of pepper.
  • When you have everything mixed well and the spices are right (may need to adjust the cumin and paprika slightly) add the parsley, squeeze in the lemon and toss it again. All done!

Serves 6-8 hungry cunts but I prefer to make it on the weekend and eat it throughout the week. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Type: Sparkling Red
Origin: Barossa Valley, SA
Approx Cost: $45

An old, trim man is this wine.

Very dark, inky purple colour. Impressive mousse and standard bead for a sparkling red, which is to say there is very little. Great palate of rich plum, raspberry, dark chocolate and vanilla. Great length and fantastic balance. Perfect sweetness.

Yes it’s pricey, but it’s also damn good. One of the best sparkling reds on the market. I want to say that I prefer the Majella, but I don’t know if I do.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

WINE: MAJELLA ‘The Musician’ Cabernet Shiraz 2006

Type: Red
Origin: Coonawarra, South Australia
Approx Cost: $15

I keep looking for a non-sparkling wine from Majella that fills me with the same wow-factor that came with the delicious Sparkling Shiraz of theirs. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.

But it’s not bad. The cab sav really dominates (70%), but is nicely rounded off by the delicious shiraz that Majella make (30%).

Very dark crimson. Blackberry and liquorice on the nose. The palate is sweet and juicy. Blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, vanilla and liquorice. Mid-length finish with soft tannins.

Approachable now but could be better with a couple of years.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Type: Thai
Location: 543 King St, Newtown
Booking Required: Sometimes

After so much Thai in the last few weeks (note: this was written like a month ago but I couldn't be bothered posting it) I’d sworn off the stuff for a while. Not because I was sick of it, I just felt like trying something different for once. But it wasn’t to be, as someone organised a work dinner to be here.

Not all was lost. They put on a pretty good spread here. Above average Thai food, BYO, good service and a nice location. Really good pad thai, tasty curries and flavoursome salads.

Really amazing value too. For the 9 of us it was only a staggering $120 and we stuffed ourselves. But lacking anything great that would make me come back.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Doytao Thai on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

WINE: JACQUESSON Cuvee no. 730 Brut NV

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $65

The last time I got this wine it was really horribly corked. I decided today that I was ready to give it another go.

Made with a blend of grapes from the 2002 harvest, as well as a reserve harvest, it’s a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, if fairly equal quantities.

Pours with a medium mousse, but fine and persistent bead. Mid straw hue. Aroma of green apple and peaches. The green apple and peach persist into the palate where they’re joined by a creamy texture and some honey and pear notes. Lovely dough and citrus finish which has good length and really opens up.

One of the better NV champagnes, but also one of the more expensive. Although it really is quite stylish and balanced, so give it a go and see if it floats your boat.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

WINE: YERING STATION Shiraz Viognier 2006

Type: Red
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $20

While I didn’t review it on this blog, I really enjoyed the ‘05 of this and gave it 90%. A top value wine and an excellent value Shiraz Viognier blend. I got the ‘06 ages ago but it has sat idle. My second last bottle on hand. Not sure why.

I ummed and ahhed over this for quite a while.

A dark old purpley-black of a thing. Nice palate of blackberries, currants, spice, smoke and dried stone fruits. Smooth finish with good depth and length. Opened up very well over a few hours.

This is still a very good wine, but I don’t think it’s a nice as the ’05.


Friday, June 08, 2007

WINE: TAMAR RIDGE Riesling 2004

Type: White
Origin: Tasmania
Approx Cost: $20

I had a hankering for a Riesling the other week but didn’t have a clue about which would be a good, cheap one to get. I think I closed my eyes and got this one.

Looks like a Riseling (good start). Palate is a fairly heavy peach and oak with a bit orange and peppermint.

Not bad. Didn’t turn me around on Rieslings. I still don’t know if they’re for me or not.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Alrighty. *cracks knuckles*.

Every few months, I go out for dinner with some friends who I used to work with. We've all done our stint in hospitality and we all enjoy our food and wine a lot. We always go to one of the most underrated restaurants in Melbourne. It's called Wildflower and it's in Canterbury. This restaurant has the most phenomenal food, and best of all, it's BYO, with very reasonable corkage ($4.50/head), so we all stock up on interesting booze and take it along.

To eat we all had the 8 course degustation which consisted of:

1- a cauliflower soup: fucking awesome. Creamy and savory. Quite rich, but a really nice start.

2 - Oysters with spring onion and tempura seasoned calamari. Totally unique take on oysters, I've never had them like this before. This was the highlight for sure.

3 - Scallops on a pork ravioli. Pretty nice, rich and gamey. Good winter flavours.

4 - Quail - Three styles of quail ranging from wings to salad. With red wine and truffle emulsion and mushroom puree. This was pretty awesome too.

5 - Lamb in a baked Parmesan shell with coriander. Again, awesome winter flavours, very rich but really good. Had like a burgundy sauce.

6 - Lemon granata - Really really potent lemon, good palate cleanser. Bit too sour for my liking.

7 - Rare eye fillet on top of cauliflower and smoked bacon patie type thing. This would have mad an amazing main course. Combination of bacon and cauli was rad.

8 - Desert tasting plate: passion fruit panacotta, blueberry pudding, creme brulee, chocolate torte and several sorbets and ice creams. Sweetened condensed milk ice cream was mine from the start and was delightful, pudding and brulee were also fucking good.

The service was friendly and informative, the setting is relaxed yet stylish and the prices are reasonable considering the quality of the food. Great place to go for a low-key yet classy night out.

Definitely going back.


1. Gosset Grande Reserve NV Champagne: One of my favorites. Persistently fine bead. Creamy, awesomely rounded balance between citrus and dry yeasty finish. Straw in colour, fresh, inviting nose. 90%

2. 1990 Trimbach Gewurtztraminer: Wow! What a nose! Purchased on auction for $50 this had the most amazing bouquet of pot-purri and perfume. Aged nicely, light gold in colour, flavours were subtle, with a long musky finish and good spice. I could wear this stuff as cologne. 93%

3. 1999 Penfold's Yattarna Chardonnay: Really pretty stunning chardonnay. Smooth, silky impressions of stone fruit, melon, American oak and butteryness. Coconut on the nose. Impressive. 90%

4. 2002 Felton Road Pinot Noir: strong smell of raspberry and wild mushrooms. Similar on the palate with ripe plums. This got dominated by the food but it held up pretty well. Good earthy finish and great fruit. If it played cricket it'd be a solid all rounder. Could probably do with another 5 years. 89%

5. 1996 Penfold's Bin 389 Cab Shiraz. Big rich nose with American Oak and black currents. Velvety tannin structure, but lacking the fruit to really impress. Typical, ripe Australian red. 87%

6. 2003 Chateau Coutet Sauternes: boiled lollies and confectionery nose. Honeydew, apricots and syrupy on the palate. Typical sauternes with kerosene finish, not too sweet, nicely balanced and approachable. 88%

I'm full, drunk and very tired.


WINE: SCARPANTONI Block 3 Shiraz 2005

Type: Red
Origin: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Approx Cost: $20

Dark crimson colour. A lot of juicy currants dominate the palate with a little aniseed. The finish is dry and spicy but with good length. Drinks really well.

Not a whole bundle of depth but a nice wine at a nice price.

As an aside, their website is really ugly. Browse at your own risk.


Monday, June 04, 2007

RESTAURANT: Circa, The Prince

Type: Modern Australian
Location: 2 Acland St, St Kilda
Booking Required: Yes

Ranked by The Age's Good Food Guide as one of Melbourne's top restaurants (with two hats) last year and awarded 3 stars from the Gourmet Food Traveller in 2006, Circa has long been on my wishlist of restaurants to get loose at. With a friend coming back from the Middle East for a week, I thought it'd be a good place to catch up and enjoy a quality breakfast with some good bubbles.

The decor is pretty smart, very modern, with no expense spared on interior decorations all complimented by good use of natural lighting and some sneaky views over Port Phillip Bay. The service was casual yet still perfect and I found by the end of the meal that the whole experience had been seamless.

Although I didn't flick through the entire winelist (it was pretty hefty, thanks to the excellent Prince Wine Store located beneath the restaurant) the list of champagnes was impressive. A good variety of Australian sparklings along with a handy list of prestige French. The markups on standard NVs are not for the faint of heart, up to 350% in some cases, however after some deliberation on how much we actually wanted to spend we went with a 1989 Louis Roederer Rosè.

Now before I go into the food, I can't even begin to describe the champagne, simply because I've never tried anything like it. The only older champagne I've tried was an 1985 Laurent Perrier, which wasn't in the same league as this. This was breathtaking. It was perfectly rounded with fruit and finished with a firm nutty finish. We tasted everything from peaches and apricots to brioche and macadamia, bold but still elegant and complex. It had aged well and I'd probably say it was in its prime.

This pic doesn't quite do the colour justice. It was more a bronze-pink.

To eat, I ordered the Tom Cooper smoked salmon with a steamed egg, parsley and capers. The flavours in this were divine. It seemed to slot in nicely with the champagne as well. Along with the above there was a honey-mustard seed type garnish which provided a delicious twist to brighten up the salmon and the egg. It was so good I got half way trough it and ordered another one. One of my friends ordered one for himself after he had tried mine.

My two friends both started with the scrambled eggs with smokey bacon and truss tomato. The bacon was probably the best bacon I've ever tasted. It was crisp and yet it still maintained a juicy rich flavour. The scrambled egg was fluffy and seasoned nicely. My other friend was so satisfied with it that ordered another round.

Doesn't exactly look mind blowing, but it tasted pretty bloody good.

We finished off with coffees and relaxed. Although the place was close to empty, we were not hurried with the bill and the waitress was quite content to let us chill out.

I'd never hesitate to come back to this place, as long as I could afford to do it properly. This morning was totally excessive, it was still good fun and worth it every once in a while.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

CONCOCTION: Pol Roger NV with Cougar Bourban cans

Type: Stupid, Stupid Idea
Origin: Carlton, Victoria
Approx Cost: ~$70

Apologies in advance for questioning the integrity of this blog, however I feel it needs to be documented.

Long story short, we mixed some pol roger with bourbon and coke (only a on very small scale). Turned out to be an improvement on the bourbon and coke but still wasn't all that flash. The citrus definitely shone through and had a well layered complexity.

I don't recommend it, but if you're drunk and looking for attention it's quite effective.


Friday, June 01, 2007

WINE: CHANDON Blanc de Blancs 2003

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $30

I love Blanc de Blanc sparklings and think that Chandon is consistently brining out Australia’s best sparklings, so this had to be good. And it was, although the cork looked a bit worrying when I took it out. But not to worry.

Simply a great BdB. Pale straw in colour with a hint of green. The mousse and bead are nothing to write home about but it does persist well. Those trademark Chandon flavours of white peach and honey dominate as usual, with a hint of ginger and a creaminess and sweetness that isn’t cloying but has you licking your lips for long after you’ve finished. The sweetness and crispness lingers for ages.

This is a classy as hell wine that is a fantastic example that the French champagnes aren’t untouchable. It’s not a technically perfect wine but for $30 this represents excellent value.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

RESTAURANT: Umi Kaiten Zushi

Type: Japanese
Location: 477 Pitt St (Corner of Hay and Parket St), Haymarket
Booking Required: No bookings, may need to wait

I don’t really like sushi trains, so going here was a risk. The cost of getting a good filling and the overabundance of boring/tasteless dishes always turned me off.

But this place was fantastic. It’s such an unassuming location (across the road from the Capitol Theatre) to have such an experience in. Amongst the nicely decorated walls and huge fish tank (score), travel delicious places of sushi along a huge, winding train. It’s a bit more than your average sushi train (the good plates costing between $3-$5), but the quality, range and flavour is undeniable.

Next to us were two businessmen sitting before what must have been 20 plates. It sounds excessive, but once you start trying the sushi on offer, you can understand how they ended up with that many.

If the food on the train wasn’t enough, they also have some great dishes on offer. Wagyu beef curry udon was a combination of flavours I hadn’t tasted before, but was sublime. Even their miso soup seemed a step above the norm.

If you like finishing your meal on a sweet note then their range of desserts is fascinating. Green tea cheesecake and pumpkin crème brulee are just two examples.

At the end of it all we were stuffed. Something interesting to eat is constantly travelling past or sitting on a menu near you. And the staff on hand always seem more than willing to bring it to you, even if it isn’t the most polished service.

It does cost a bit more than the normal sushi train, but it’s good value for the quality on offer. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better sushi train in Sydney.

RATING: Will return to

Umi Kaiten-Zushi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WINE: PARKER Coonawarra Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Type: Red
Origin: Coonawarra, Victoria
Approx Cost: $35

I have a buttload of cab sav on hand that I need to get through, despite not being a big fan of cab sav (or maybe because of not being a big fan of cab sav). Nevertheless, I was looking forward to trying this because of the reputation that the Parker First Growth has.

Rich in colour. A nice aromas of plum, blueberry, tobacco and spice. Nice, well-rounded palate of blueberry, plum, mulberry, spice, tobacco and dark chocolate. Good length on the finish. Quite a lot of alcohol to it.

This isn’t a great cab sav but it is a good one. I don’t think 02 was their best vintage so pick up a different year if you’re going to try it. Regardless of what year you do get, it will need a few years in the cellar to develop.


Monday, May 28, 2007


Type: Thai/Asian
Location: 95 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
Booking Required: No bookings

I like the idea behind Snakebean, the cheaper cousin of RQ. It’s a no fuss, BYO (bottle shop next door, yay), Asian eatin-in/take away. The food is simple, tasty and fairly well priced and the service is friendly and attitude free.

That said, the food isn’t sensational and it’s good as a quick eat or take away but nothing more. Chicken larb was nicely flavoured but lacked flair, entrees (chicken and mango rice paper roll, chicken dumplings, roast duck pastries) were pulled off well and the slow cooked beef stew was nice and warming.

What I did find odd was the almost communal aspect of it all. Nearly everyone who came in the restaurant wanted to know what we were eating so they could get that too. Strange.

I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to eating there again, especially for take away, but I won’t go out of my way to go back.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Snakebean on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 27, 2007

WINE: Starve Dog Lane Sparkling 2000

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Adelaide Hills, SA
Approx Cost: $30

I spontaneously decided to pick up this bottle while I was in the grog store looking for a bottle of red for dinner. I hadn't tried a mid-range Australian sparkling for some time and I figured nows a good opportunity!

No prize for guessing the combination of grapes in this wine! Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier combined to produce a nice bright coloured sparkling. The nose possessed a light aroma of fresh fruit and bread. Fine bead. Taste was delicious, a combination of apple and light citrus flavours with a crisp and solid finish. Very enjoyable.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this wine - value wise it does not compare with the likes of Blue Pyrenees which retails at roughly $10 less a bottle.


WINE: LILLYPILLY Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2002

Type: Sweet White
Origin: Riverina, NSW
Approx Cost: $20 (375ml)

Straight away I’ll admit that I love the stickies, so this is right up my alley even though it was my first botrytis sav blanc. Still, a lot of surprises in store when I tried it.

A luscious deep gold colour. A sexy, sexy nose of apricot, peach and citrus peel that is really inviting. I could smell it all day. But no, I mustn’t. I must taste it too. The palate is equally nice. The fruit peel really dominates with a little spice and some juicy apricot. It finishes off with a pleasing, sharp tang.

The Sauvignon Blanc really stars here. It’s lighter and slightly more tart than a botrytis Semillon tends to be. Interesting and delicious, like an upsidedown cake (“Holy shit, this cake is upsidedown. Oh, and delicious (like a cake)!”)

I can’t recommend it enough.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

WINE: MOSS WOOD Amy's Cabernet Sauvignon 2005


Type: Red
Origin: Margaret River, WA
Approx Cost: $30

Jobe decided to palm off the other half of his bottle of wine (refer ISBR #2). His excuse for this was that he wanted me to participate in the ISBR, but after tasting the wine, I wonder if he didn't have ulterior motives.

When I received this wine, it was well below room temperature - however I have a feeling this only benefited the wine because drinking it cold hid many of its imperfections, unfortunately not all of them.

I haven't got much to say about this wine, frankly it lacked depth and I wasn't impressed.


Friday, May 25, 2007

RESTAURANT: Wok Station Pyrmont

Type: Thai
Location: 2/135 Harris St, Pyrmont
Booking Required: Sometimes

The wall says No Bullshitting, No Gossip, No Backstabbing, No Smoking Area and I think that works well for pretty as a picture Pyrmont.

A really nice place for lunch on a warm Sydney day with the wind blowing the breeze from Darling Harbour up the square and into the restaurant. Good looking people walk by and equally good looking plates of food scurry back and forth.

The menu is a bit odd. It looks like a Myer catalogue and the names of dishes is all mixed up. Chicken larb is known as BCP. No explanation is offered as to what BCP stands for. Brown Chicken Plate? Whatever it was, it was pretty nice.

BYO which is good, although they didn’t have any flutes for our champagne so we had to drink them out of normal wine glasses. Service is pretty frantic and without fuss as you’d expect.

While there are better Thai joints around Sydney, if I ever was in Pyrmont and looking for a bite to eat I would consider this place. Good food, good prices and no bullshit.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Wok Station on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

WINE: MOSS WOOD Amy’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2005


Type: Red
Origin: Margaret River, WA
Approx Cost: $30

After Sam’s review I couldn’t help but crack my bottle of this to see if it was any good or not. Just to be on the safe side I gave it plenty of time in the glass, which was probably wise because it smelt like a punnet of mouldy berries that had been sitting at the back of the fridge for months. That must have been the greenery that Sam mentioned.

After a little time in the glass the first few sips were nice enough, so I left it a bit longer to see where it was headed. Bad move.

Light but uneven crimson. An inviting nose of blueberries, plums and spice. But we come to the palate and it all falls down. The fruits are terribly stewed now with a background of oak and spice. Ackh. That mouldy punnet of berries is looking appealing...

Some people really like this style of Cabernet, but I’m not one of them.


Monday, May 21, 2007

WINE: Moss Wood Amy's Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Type: Red (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Origin: Margaret River (Western Australia)
Approx Cost: $25-$30

When it comes to straight Cabernet, Moss Wood is one of the leaders in Australia. Their premium label is consistently awesome and is one of the few premium Australian reds that is really approachable whether it is young or 15 years old. Initially I selected this because I wanted something that I knew would be available in Sydney (so we could conduct another ISBR), but also, as a serious fan of the premium label, I was hoping the Amy's would dazzle me.

It failed.

The nose was light and pretty much just had a hint of American oak. I thrashed it round my glass a few times to try and get some more out of it but I was pushing it. On the palate it started off really green with slight hints of stalks and spice, American oak prevailing with a pretty short finish. I realise it's only an '05, but that said, it lacks any mid-palate intensity that a wine with legs requires and good fruit is nowhere to be seen.

Apologies Jobe. Not a good start on my behalf.

Conclusion: Spend $100 on the good Moss Wood. Or get 3 cleanskin Margaret River Cab Sauvs


Sunday, May 20, 2007

WINE: TATIARRA ‘Culled Barrel’ Shiraz 2005

Type: Red
Origin: Heathcote, Victoria
Approx Cost: $20

Calypso tried to dodgy this one up. A couple of weeks ago he told me he’d ordered two bottles of a wine that sounded interesting. But he wouldn’t tell my why it was interesting or who made it, instead saying that he would serve it to me blind and tell me more about it afterwards so I didn’t prejudge it for being, as I now know, a culled wine. Going into it all I knew was that it came from Victoria, cost approx $20 and was Shiraz. I tried to coax the name out of him but it wasn’t to be.

Veeeeery dark black/purple in colour had me interested initially. It looked powerful but I had no idea that it was a 15.5% wine monster. Quite a nice spicey, berry-filled nose. Very different on the palate to a normal Shiraz. Plum, ripe, juicy currants and dark berries with a bit of spice and oak. Lengthy finish of pepper and edgy tannins. Didn’t show excessive alcohol, which was good.

Opened up quite well over the course of an hour or so, and would probably be even better with more time in the glass. I wasn’t blown away, but it was quite good for what it was. If I didn’t know the price beforehand I would have guessed it was somewhere between $30-40, so this is a very good value wine.


WINE: TATIARRA Culled Barrel Shiraz 2005

Type: Red
Origin: Victoria - Heathcote
Approx Cost: $20.00

I saw this particular wine during my occasional browsing of What drew me towards a purchase was the fact that this was a ‘culled barrel’ of wine, regardless of which, the wine had still been bottled. Apparently, 50 of the 130 barrels that were produced in 2005 were culled due to some form of imperfection; however, the 50 culled barrels were still bottled and sold at 40% of the price. The price of the bottle produced from the “Culled barrels” was still $20.00, leading me to believe that this could still be an interesting and enjoyable bottle of wine.

Well, I certainly wasn’t disappointed! – Very smooth wine with hints of liquorice, spice and blackberry made for a very enjoyable experience. This wine may have benefitted from an additional couple of years of cellar life to add maturity.



WINE: MOSS WOOD Ribbon Vale Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Type: White
Origin: Margaret River, WA
Approx Cost: $25

Quite a nice blend of Semillon and Sav Blanc and a good introduction as my first Moss Hill wine.

Gold with lemon and limey-green hints. Lime, zest, grass and flint on the palate. Well balanced. A good sweetness and a nice, clean finish.

Nothing that will set the world on fire but not a lot to fault.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

RESTAURANT: The Nepalese Kitchen

Type: Nepalese
Location: 481 Crown St, Surry Hills
Booking Required: Usually.

For Calypso’s birthday we had originally planned to attend the wonderful Benzin, but arrived to find that someone had booked the entire restaurant out for a birthday or something. With the success of the evening on the line I had to think fast. I have to tell you, loyal readers, that I was stumped. Despite being in the middle of Surry Hills I couldn’t think of anything that would be appropriate. But then I spied The Nepalese Kitchen across the road. I’d heard good things. But I’d also heard that it was usually booked out. Do we risk it? Calypso says yes.

We walk in and manage to get a seat because we’re there so early. Initially, I was worried. The place looked a tad dingy and had that “cheap” smell about it. But we were there so we kept on.

After a quick trip to the nearby pub for some wines ($1 corkage isn’t bad) we returned to look at the menu completely stupefied. There were meats and descriptions I hadn’t encountered before. So we opted for the trusty banquet option.

And it turned out to be bloody tasty. Starting off with a trio of dips, chicken dumplings (very nice) and some samosa sort of things, all very excellent. Mains continued with the quality; a succulent goat curry, an amazingly tender chicken and potato curry, a nicely barbequed beef salad and a nice eggplant and potato curry, which was surprisingly good considering I’m not big on eggplant.

While it was all excellent, there wasn’t enough for us four strapping lads. So we decided to go dessert. But not normal dessert, no, we decided to go two desserts each. Your average waiter would probably freak out but ours kept his cool, confirming the order in a relaxed tone. A pyramid trio of ice creams was nice (but not outstanding) and the fudge thingy was also quite good, without being spectacular.

The bill came and we were delighted. Good value for the tasty food on show. Next time we’d probably avoid the banquet and order more food from the menu, but apart from that a very successful birthday celebration.

RATING: Will return to

Nepalese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 18, 2007

WINE: TYRRELLS Reserve Stevens Semillon 2002

Type: White
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $20

Hmmm I don’t know. I got this after trying Mount Pleasant’s Elizabeth last week, thinking that trying something from Tyrrells' lower-tier wines would prove interesting.

Didn’t start well with the cork fucking up beyond belief. I’m really becoming a fan of screwcaps for cheaper wines.

Green gold. Lime and mineral aromas. Opens with citrus and flinty minerals. A little toasty on the finish.

Ehhhh. It’s good, but nothing special.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

WINE: BRAIDED RIVER Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006

Type: Red
Origin: New Zealand
Approx Cost: $14

Berries on the nose. Underripe berries, rhubarb and anise on the palate. Very young and bursting with fruit like it was just picked yesterday. Sweet, unspectacular finish.

Not good, not bad. A cheap quaffer that won’t offend.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $80

Enjoyed over a nice Thai lunch. The perfect accompaniment really. Mid to pale straw in colour. Mousse isn’t as fine as I’d expect but the bead was fine and persistent. Great lemon and citrus flavours with a toasty finish. Good lenth. Not as smooth or crisp as the top few NVs floating around, but it’s not far off.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WINE: TALTARNI Brut Tache 2005

Type: Sparkling Rose
Origin: Victoria (70%) and Tasmania (30%)
Approx Cost: $17

After the surprisingly pleasant Clover Hill Brut made by Taltarni, I was interested in trying something else. Enter the Brut Tache.

Pale gold with a hint of salmon. Quite a pleasing colour. The mousse is all over the place and the bead is fine but burns itself out pretty quick. Interesting palate. Strawberries, passionfruit, pink apple. The finish is long and smooth but the flavours that carry on aren’t great at times.

This wine was extremely influenced by the food that was eaten with it. It did well with a very lemony chick pea salad, but died in the arse when tried with a dish driven by a basil pesto hummus.

I’m still waiting for a sparkling rose to wow me. From what I’ve had so far they’re never as enjoyable as the normal sparkling whites and are even sold at a higher price sometimes. This wine is really no exception. It’s okay, but I’d really only recommend it if you’re after a nice midrange Aussie sparkling rose. Can’t see myself getting it again.


Monday, May 14, 2007

WINE: MAJELLA Shiraz 2004

Type: Red
Origin: Coonawarra
Approx Cost: $30

Majella is the man. There are some really tasty reds coming out of Coonawarra at the moment, but Majella is the one hitting the right notes for me. It’s such a delicious and distinctive taste.

The 2004 Shiraz is no exception. Nice and inky in colour. That very familiar Majella nose which you can almost bite into of blackcurrant, vanilla and mint. A palate which is just as expressive. Again, the juicy berry and currant fruits with a little bit of plum, oakey spice, mint and vanilla thrown in. Ah the mint. A nice finish which leaves you licking your lips.

It could probably do with a few years in the cellar but bugger it, it’s nice now.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

WINE: Yering Station Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2005

Type: White (sweet)
Origin: Yarra Valley, Vic
Approx Cost: ~$20

Excuse the graphic imagery, but I am currently averaging about three orgasms a minute. Sitting in front of me is a plate of crackers and healthy portion of Délice de Bourgogne, a triple cream French Brie and a glass of Yering's Late Harvest Pinot Gris (with Lyrical Commission humming in the background). I first tried the LHPG at Yering a bout 12 months ago when I went out there for lunch. Yering's whole operation is pretty spectacular. It's wines are generally very good, their marketing is smart and their winery/restaraunt/cellar door setup is amazing. I'm a bit of a fan of lighter dessert-style wines, I find they're like a palate cleanser and a good way to finish the night without feeling like you've over done it.

I really like the colour of this wine, it looks like it's a friendly kind of wine. Don't ask me how a wine looks friendly. It just does. The nose gives a similar impression to a botrytis-style dessert wine, with hints of confectionery kerosene, but signs of melon and stone fruit are lurking without sinister intent. The mouth feel is slightly buttery and it opens beautifully on the palate. It's got a real nice round sweetness, backed with the above mentioned fruits and some very fain floral orange flavours. Lovely length and slightly kerosene/Sauternes kind of finish. It's really nicely toned-down, with enough sweetness to compliment food, but without being dominant, providing the wine with a great deal of flexibility. I really like it. And it's fucking sex with this cheese.

This would be interesting to try with a savory dish in some sort of culinary experiment. It works well with blue and soft cheeses and would be a pleasure on it's own.


WINE: JOSEPH PERRIER Cuvee Royale Brut Rose NV

Type: Rose Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $70

I thought the normal Brut of this was a nice enough Non-Vintage so why not give the rose a go?

Very deep golden pink in colour; The mousse is fine-to-medium, pours well, with a fine, persistent bead; Quite powerful in taste, definitely not one of those subtle rose style wines; Green apple, rosehip, grapefruit; finish is a little confusing, toasty and acidic, muddled.

For $30 this would be a good rose champagne. For $70 I can’t see myself going there again.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

RESTAURANT: Devonshire Thai

Type: Thai
Location: 208 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Booking Required: Rarely

The next stop on the Surry Hills Dining Experience (wow, that’d make a great name for a prog band) is… merry olde England? While the name may not be quite right at Devonshire Thai, the food certainly is.

After ordering a trio of starters—tofu with peanut sauce, prawn spring rolls and fish cakes—I was delighted to see them all arrive on the one platter. It’s only a little thing but it makes a nice difference to everything arriving separately on small dishes. They all tasted pretty good too. Perfectly fried but not at all oily.

Mains were also good. Beef jungle curry packed a fair amount of heat and plenty of flavour, and the chicken larb was very pleasing indeed with it’s citrus flavours.

All in all a nice meal and a nice, small place. A step above your average suburban Thai, but probably not as good as fellow Surry Hills Thai purveyors, Spice I Am and Benzin. Service was a tad clumsy but nice overall and the price was also pretty good. If this wasn’t near Spice I Am and Benzin then I’d come back to this place quite a lot, but, well it is. Can’t argue with geography.

RATING: Okay, may go back.

Devonshire Thai on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 11, 2007

WINE: MOUNT PLEASANT ‘Elizabeth’ Semillon 2002

Type: White
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost $15

After the delicious Lovedale the other day, I couldn’t pass this up when I saw it on the wine list at a restaurant.

Very dark straw with a bit of green in it. Nice floral and lemon nose. Palate has a big lemon and lime kick to it. Finish is okay, but a little jarring.

A good buy if you want a nice, cheap Semillon to consume and not think too much about, but nowhere near the Lovedale.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

WINE: Oakridge Estate Chardonnay 2005

Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Yarra Valley, Vic
Approx Cost: $15-$20

About two years ago this wine popped up on the radar after winning a plethora of awards at numerous respected wine shows. It had been ranked higher than some of the biggest names in Australian chardonnay, including Giaconda, Penfolds Yattarna and Bannockburn. At the time I was cynical and refused to be sucked in by the hype and I'll be honest, I'm not a massive chardonnay fan.

However I picked up a bottle of the '05 last night on the recommendation of a co-worker and had it tonight with a prawn and leak pasta dish. It was delightful. The nose smells like fresh bread and nuts, hints of oak and good rich fruit. The palate is long and refined with a small hint of butteryness. The balance between fruit and oak is exceptional and the grapefruit flavours linger, without any bitterness or unwanted acidity. It reminds me a little bit of bollinger, without the bubbles.

For the price, this wine is well worth getting. It'll hold up beautifully next to a plate of barramundi and it'll nicely compliment a plate of prawns. It's one of the few chards I've tried at a reasonable price that's really grabbed me.


WINE: MOUNT PLEASANT ‘Lovedale’ Semillon 1996

Type: White, Semillon
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $45

Well, with the hope of doing a kinda interstate simultaneous booze review (ISBR) with Jobe, I went to work (a bottle shop) with the ambition of buying a Lovedale Semillon. I asked the boss if we had any to my surprise he said: "yes." He went out to the dungeon where he stashes all the good shit and fetched me a bottle of the '96 Lovedale which had been sitting there for about 4 years, since the last owners had the place. He cut me a bit of a deal on it and told me it'd be looking pretty good. Jeremy Oliver's book (not the best) gave it 96/100 and recommend drinking 2008 onwards. 2007's close enough.

I went round to a friend's place after work with a pack of sushi and sashimi and opened the wine in time for the budget highlights. The good quality cork had shown no signs of deterioration and the opening nose was delightfully complex and interesting. My first impression of the taste was: "hey this thing's fuckin spritzy, it's got bubbles", my friend agreed. we poured a third glass and let it sit. After 10 minutes it had been lined with bubbles. How peculiar. Once the spritzyness had passed it left a pretty interesting, all be it short, palate of melon, honey suckle and some floral notes. The citrus Jobe experienced with the 2000 had softened and revealed a very elegant silkiness. It had probably gone in the cellar a bit long, or it could have been a dud bottle.

Overall there were definite signs of it being a really good wine. It had the characteristics of a really nice aged semillon. It had just passed it's prime by the time I got to it. Do as Jobe says, get as much of this and the Vat 1 as you can and enjoy some of the world's best value wine.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

WINE: MOUNT PLEASANT ‘Lovedale’ Semillon 2000

Type: White, Semillon
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $35?

I’m comin’ straight outta the Hunter with a single-vineyard Semillon. Hmm doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as the original. NWA were right to not write that song about this wine. Still, it does deserve some sort of musical dedication because it’s bloody fantastic.

Slight straw with a touch of green in colour. Aromas of lemon, lime and grass. And then the glorious taste. Lemon and lime with a hint of grapefruit and peach, all deliciously rounded off with some nice honey notes. Beautifully long, clean finish.

This is an outstanding example of why Hunter Valley Semillon is so highly regarded. Hard to pick between this and the also excellent Tyrrells Vat 1, so don’t even bother. Do yourself a favour, pick up both and fuck the police.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

WINE: D’ARENBERG ‘The Custodian’ Grenache 2004

Type: Red
Origin: McLaren Vale, Australia
Approx Cost: $18

I think this is the first 100% Grenaches that I’ve ever had. Inexperienced, but I’ll press on.

Inky purple with a bit of deep red. Quite a juicy wine. Lots of berry and currant flavours with some oak and spice thrown in, with a little vanilla and mint on the finish. I think this can do with a bit of age. The tannins are a bit sharp.

Tasted nice with a warm Indian curry. It was a pleasing experience for my first Grenache, but I don’t think it compares to other reds. If I find one highly recommended then


Saturday, April 28, 2007

WINE: MOET ET CHANDON Millesime Blanc 1999

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $100

A gift from some people at work. Wonderful. Moet is a champagne house that I have A LOT of time for. I believe the Millesime Blanc is made only during above average vintages and is supposed to be the best that the winemaker can do, but I could be wrong. I was never one for research.

I had this a few months ago and thought it was okay, but the place I got it from was a bit suss and nothing ever tastes great from there.

Mid straw with a green hue. Fine, persistent mousse and bead. Tastes quite nice. Green apples, pears, caramel and spice.

I like it, but I don’t think it really offers anything special. And for this price you want it to.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

RESTAURANT: Chilli Man Thai

Type: Thai
Location: 24b Letitia St, Oatley
Rooking Required: Usually.

My local Thai joint. Always packed out with people, but that has more to do with the lack of other options around here and the fact that the restaurant is tiny.

They do good food, but not great food, at a good price. If it wasn’t close to me I wouldn’t go out of my way to get the food, but at the same time I do enjoy eating it.

Good entrees, especially the golden bags and tofo tod. For the mains it really is trial and error about what to pick. I like the beef salad, chicken larb, pad thai, beef green curry, lamb basil and a few others. Duck red curry was a disappointment.

Service is pretty average so takeaway is a better option.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Victoria
Approx Cost: $18

The 2000 vintage of this was one of my favourite wines for under $20. It had a fantastic crispness and a great selection of fruit behind it. So I was nicely surprised when I noticed that the bottle I had in the fridge was the 2001.

I don’t remember the 2000 being closed by diam but I could be wrong.

Good mousse and bead for an Aussie sparkling. An attractive pale straw colour with a slight copper hue. Different taste. It still has all of the grapefruit, lemon, peach and apple, but it’s a lot sweeter; not as crisp. Finish isn’t great.

It’s still good, but just not as good. It’s almost like the tried to bring in more finesse with this vintage, but the crispness and bold fruit flavours is what made the 2000 such a good wine.


Monday, April 23, 2007

RESTAURANT: Shang Hai Yangzhou House

Type: Chinese
Location: 177 Forest Road, Hurstville
Rooking Required: No.

The last time I came here I enjoyed it but didn’t really notice anything special about it. But something was different this time. Maybe different food was ordered, maybe it was because it was dinner instead of lunch, maybe I was excited about the prospect of the 4 day Easter long weekend approaching when I went. But whatever it was, the second time around was an amazing experience.

The menu at this place is a monster. It has as many choices as most Chinese places (ie shitloads), but has a large picture for EVERY DISH on the menu. The resulting photo album is half the size of the table.

Went for the turnip cakes, fried dumplings, some sort of strange egg roll and a steamed dish I forget (dumplings?). All were fantastic. Chinese Noodle Restaurant were my favourite dumplings until now. A lot cleaner and crispier in taste. I couldn’t get enough.

Service wasn’t great but at places like this I don’t think you can expect much. Made up for it in value, which was nothing short of outstanding.

Two dishes into the meal Calypso and I began to debate whether or not to give out an illustrious “Will constantly return to” grading (only our second ever). When the dust settled and I had time to reflect, I decided that it was worthy.

RATING: Will constantly return to

Shanghai Yangzhou House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 22, 2007

RESTAURANT: Pizza e Birra

Type: Italian
Location: 500 Crown St, Surry Hills
Rooking Required: No bookings. Tends to get busy later in the evening.

Next step on the Surry Hills odyssey is the well-regarded Pizza e Birra.

Combining traditional, delicious pizza with Australian-style beer at a good price in a nice location sounded too good to be true. But it really wasn’t.

We entered the gorgeously renovated warehouse with dim lighting before the late evening rush and headed to our table with a more than healthy appetite.

A big stumble at the start of the evening with the waiters taking the order of tables that came in after us before ours, forcing us to wait for a while. But once we got past that the rest of the evening went smoothly.

A good menu combining all of the elements of Italian food: pizza, pasta, seafood, wine. But we were here for the pizza. Good wine list too. Some good local and Italian choices with a bit of a mark up. But we weren’t there for the wine. It’s all about the house beer.

We kicked things off with the perfect starter. An antipasto plate piled with cheese, bread and cured meat. I was concerned that because this place is fairly cheap they might skimp on the quality of their ingredients, but everything on the plate was good.

Great pizza too. The Proscuitto comes topped with plenty of slices of the meat, shaved parmesean and rocket. It’s a simple topping that I’ve had a few times before, but Pizze e Birra really nail it. Tried a couple of the others and they were also impressive. The bases are perfectly crisp when you bite into them, but aren’t TOO crispy or chewy like many other places that claim to be authentic.

The house beer (simply called ‘Birra’) isn’t bad. An Australian pale ale with some good fruity flavours and a lot of hops. Unfortunately a fair bit of sediment too. But you have to give them credit for at least having a house beer.

Finished off with the tiramisu, the yardstick for every Italian restaurant. Here it is pulled off very well. Also a nice Belgian chocolate torte with cognac custard on the menu that holds its own.

A good very nice evening at a very good price. While the service was a little sporadic, the food is fantastic and the pizza is some of the best I’ve ever had.

RATING: Will return to

Pizza E Birra on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Tasmania
Approx Cost: $30

So the headline sparkling from out good friends at Taltarni wines. Okay, so maybe they aren’t really our friends and maybe there is no “us” just me. I don’t even know if this is the headline sparkling. And maybe I don’t remember if I like Taltarni wines or not. It’s safe to assume that I didn’t do my research here.

Anyway. I’m surprised by how fine the mousse and bead are. Rare for an Australian wine. Not super fine but still good. I forget the colour because it is now all gone and I forget to look at the colour. Mid straw from memory. The tasting notes on the website say it has a “Champagne hue”. For a sparkling white wine? How very odd.

The taste is overwhelmingly of dough and toast. There is the faintest of hints of stone fruits in there somewhere, like a peach rubbed against a slice of bread, but it’s barely noticeable. Long, bready finish.

I don’t mind this.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

WINE: GAPSTED WINES ‘Ballerina Canopy’ Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Victoria
Approx Cost: $30

An odd one. Towards the higher end of the Australian sparkling market. And no mention of this wine on their website.

Initially a fine mousse, which turns very heavy and dissipates. The bead also starts off fine but then grows and struggles under its weight. Light gold with a hint of green. Very fruity on the nose. Fruity on the palate. Citrus and peach with a little toasty kick towards the end. Creamy. Good length on the finish.

For $15 this would be a great wine, for $30 it is just middle of the class.


WINE: FOX CREEK ‘Vixen’ Sparkling Burgundy NV

Type: Sparkling Red
Origin: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Approx Cost: $20

Quite a unique blend, it’s made up of a mix of Shiraz, Cab Franc and Cab Sav. Wasn’t expecting much of this wine but it turned out to be very good indeed.

Midnight dark plum in colour. I think there is a bead in there somewhere but good luck trying to see it. Maybe it’s not, I dunno… Smells fairly herby, which is reflected in the taste. Blackberries dominate with a pinch of sugar, aniseed and assorted herbs. Reminds me a lot of the delicious Majella Sparkling Shiraz, but not quite as good.

I actually like the idea of this wine. It’s a unique taste and a well-made wine at a good price. One of the better Aussie sparkling reds that I’ve tried.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

WINE: BAY OF FIRES ‘Tigress’ Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Tasmania, Australia
Approx Cost: $20

I bought this wine completely forgetting that I have tried the headline sparkling from Bay of Fires (Arras) and wasn’t really impressed.

Very pale gold hue. It could do with a few days in the sun. Average mousse and a heavy bead which burns out fairly quickly. Orange and honey on the nose. Similar taste to the Arras, with the green apple and citrus to begin with, followed by a toasty finish. A bit of creaminess too.

I suppose it’s okay. I’d pick this up over the Arras, since it’s half the price and the quality is only just behind. But I wouldn’t pick it over many other wines.


Friday, April 13, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $50

I’ve had a couple of run-ins with Pol Roger and they were all positive. Definitely a consistent and value-for-money Champagne house.

That said, I wasn’t expecting this taste. Heavy gold/straw hue. Pours with a decent mousse and a bead that lasts well. But a lot more peach and toast than I remember. That’s followed by a sharp bite and a finish that is almost like beer. Very odd. Tastes like a mix between a Moet and Bollinger. It has both the crispness and the refined boldness.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

WINE: D’ARENBERG ‘The Peppermint Paddock’ Sparkling Chambourcin NV

Type: Sparkling Red
Origin: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Approx Cost: $25

I fine d’Arenberg to one of the biggest hit and miss producers in Australia. They may some really great wines, but they also make some really mediocre wines. So I picked up this wine a little bit desperate, looking to fill up a mixed dozen of sparkling wines.

I think it sits in between their great and mediocre offerings. After spending a geat deal of time tempting the cork from it’s home, it pours a very vivid purple with a nice bead for a sparkling red. Smells like a red frog. Tastes like a mouthful of juicy berries. Blackberries, blueberries, mulberries. Very juicy and sweet with a little kick from the tannins. The taste of the colour blue is in there somewhere. Finishes a little dry.

Not too sweet and not too tart. A nice sparkling red that would go well in summer with some meat or berries. But not great though. Lacks anything special.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

WINE: BIMBADGEN ESTANE Myall Road Botrytis Semillon 2005

Type: Sweet White
Origin: Australia
Approx Cost: $17 (375ml)

I planned to make a pancake dessert lasagne so I needed a dessert wine to go with it. This seemed like the logical choice. First tried at the Sydney Royal Wine Show and then again at Fix St James, I was looking forward to have some time alone with a bottle to test it out.

This is really bloody solid wine. The colour of liquid gold mixed with olive oil. And a most delicious taste of peaches boiled in a sugar/honey syrup with a vanilla pod and some sultanas. Nice, smooth finish.

For only $17 this represents outstanding value. It’s sweet but not sickly and it works a treat with any sweet dish, particularly one containing cream.


Monday, April 09, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $45

Last time I tried this I wasn’t impressed in the slightest. Too much acidity and a strange herby taste to it that wasn’t very pleasing. But I decided to give it a go on the off chance that the bottle I had was tainted or my taste buds were a tad confused that night.

Nope. Same problems. The mousse and bead are a bit better, but the taste is still off. It’s a little better than last time, but still not a great champagne.


Saturday, April 07, 2007


Type: Thai
Location: 14 Lackey St, Summer Hill
Booking Required: Yes

Went with a large group to this tiny suburban Thai joint to find it absolutely packed. Squeezed in to the tiny chairs and tables and ordered a range of their dishes.

Delicious entrees from what we tried. Money bags with no seafood are different to the norm and tasty; and the tofu in tamarind sauce is the perfect texture and flavouring.

Mains are similarly pleasing, although a common trend throughout was a bit too much sweetness that many other Thai places suffer from. Also, they go heavy on the garnish (chilli, mostly) in some dishes, which is pointless.

I was really looking forward to the duck salad with coconut, but was disappointed to find only a little duck meat.

All in all not a bad meal. Good value, good food, nice décor, strange location that I will probably never go back to (since Newtown is closer and has more/better Thai), but nothing terribly exciting.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Thai Garn on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 02, 2007


Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Australia
Approx Cost: $5

Last year some time I went through a period of drinking shit sparkling wines because the sparklings/champagnes I drank starting out were towards the higher end and I wanted to give my palette a bit of perspective. Looking at the list of wines I’ve rated, ordered by score, the bottles I purchased are all in the bottom 10 wines I’ve ranked.

Some how this bottle persevered. I got sick of crap wine and never got around to tasting this, so it just sat in a box of other wine for a few months gathering dust.

It pours like the retarded product of two-cousins fucking. The mouse and bead bump into the wall and become concussed then decide to stop. Pale gold with a hint of green. Smells like being stuck in an old train with a sweaty lemon tree carrying a bag of Greek food. Doesn’t taste too bad. Plenty of citrus on the tongue. Finish is pretty average. For this price it’s good. If you’re forced to put on a summer lunch for $10 and need to have a bottle of wine in the mix then this is would be a good option.


Sunday, April 01, 2007


Type: Italian / Modern Australian
Location: 111 Elizabeth St, Sydney
Booking Required: Lunch – Yes, Dinner – Rarely

I was so pumped for this place. Calypso had sent me the menu after he got it for a work lunch and I was drooling at my desk as I went through it. And then finding that they offered all of their dishes in a tasting size (think tapas) is what took me over the edge.

I was excited, dear readers.

We arrived to find the place empty but for 2 other diners and took our seats. The menu and wine lists looked great, so we went for it. The waitress was pleasant and helpful with ordering, offering to bring the dishes out in an order she felt appropriate. Although her reaction to our order of a pricey bottle of wine was a tad odd.

I think I’ll go dish by dish for this review. If that’s okay with you.

Duck and pork neck terrine with sourdough is good, if a touch dry.

Fresh figs with jamon is good, although a pretty standard menu item these days.

Seared scallops with cauliflower puree, pork crackling and an apple reduction is an odd combination of flavours which works, but not incredibly well. The entertainment factor is huge for this dish though as half of the pork crackling flies up 1 metre and across 1 metre and directly onto the floor when I try to cut it in half. The judges also enjoy the effort by Calypso to retrieve the half of pork crackling form the floor with no one noticing. A high degree of difficulty but he pulled it off. A real gold medal save.

If the fresh figs with proscuitto/jamon is becoming a restaurant staple then zucchini flowers stuffed with crab meat is as common as a bottle of wine on a table. At Fix, they’re nice enough but a touch oily and they lack a real smack of flavour.

Asparagus with fried cheese and fig jam isn’t bad but I don’t know if it’s the best piece of asparagus that I’m eating.

Duck ragout is tasty but the sauce is a little runny and the dish is lacking punch.

And the ever-preset mozzarella, tomato and basil salad is nice, but the tomato isn’t perfect.

For dessert, raspberry confit with mascarpone and raspberry sorbet is nice and the Bimbadgen Estate Botrytis Semillon is a good compliment.

Our waitress made a few strange comments throughout the night, almost indirectly commenting that we appear to be a bit young to enjoy such a meal. But that could just be us reading into it a bit.

A nice meal in a nice setting with a good wine list, good menu, nice food and an excellent concept (tasting plates) is the easiest way to sum up my Fix experience. There was nothing wrong with the evening, but I think the dishes lacked a wow factor for me to return there. If someone else decided that we should go there then I would be pleased, but I can’t see myself suggesting it.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Fix St. James on Urbanspoon