What a good week for good wine and the promise of good things to come.
I wandered in to my local bottleshop to grab something for dinner (yeah, there was food involved too) and I was grabbed by Cameron, the manager. “Mate, I’ve got a couple you should try. I know you love chardonnay. I’ve got this fantastic French chardy coming in next week,” he said as he poured me a taster.
“That’s pretty bloody good,” I said. And it was.
“You interested in some?”
Then he poured me some Spanish red (the week involved more than its fair share of tempranillo anyway).
“This is a cracker,” he said. And it was.
“I’ll get me some of that when it comes in, meanwhile I think I’ll have pinot with dinner. What’s good?”
Cameron suggested a 2010 Roland Masse pinot from the Yarra Valley at about 20 bucks.
Dinner was a plate of nibbly things … toasted onion and caraway sourdough, spinach dip, beetroot dip, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, Spanish anchovies, cheese-stuffed chillis, smoked ocean trout … whatever, there was a bit of it … and the pinot (well I had to cover all the food groups) was the perfect foil.
It’s drinking beautifully. There’s a bit of cherry up front (yeah, it is cherry season and I picked that … the smell that is, not the cherries). It has just enough oak and hangs around in the mouth … I reckon that’s called length (it’s 13%, the alcohol, not the length). I know that it’s selling well at Vintage Cellars and stocks are dwindling, so if you fancy it … and you will ... be quick.
The following night, I revisited the Florian Mollet Sancerre (about 24 bucks), which I’d first had on the weekend.
The second time was better than the first.
It really is intense and quite flowery on the nose and, for me, a hint of sweetness (just enough). After it’s been open for a while, there’s a bit of vanilla happening and lots of fruit (take your pick … smoking rollies doesn’t help my palate) and the taste lingers well in the mouth.
Simply, it’s a bloody great drink and was destined to be my drinking highlight of the week … not so.
I was at home at lunchtime on Wednesday and wondering what sort of wine I’d have with dinner. Then I thought, I have a box of Italian wines under the dining room sideboard. They’ve been there for about three years (it’s a well-sealed pine box, so the storage is OK), so I grabbed one for the fridge.
I opted for a simple pasta dish for dinner … garlic, fresh diced tomatoes, some yellow capsicum sliced finely, Spanish anchovies, rocket leaves and some fresh basil, plenty of olive oil and a splash of the pasta water ... served with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If the pasta was good … and it was bloody good … then the wine – a 2007 Bollini Pinot Grigio Trentino – was an absolute bloody cracker.
I’ve seen it described as the “ultimate aperitif wine” … or how about “the fresh, refined style is ideal for frequent, casual consumption”? Frequent? That’s my kind of wine.
It’s fragrant, lively, crisp, fruity, flinty and oh so clean in the mouth. And there’s just enough acid. I reckon it would go well with any sort of food. Without question, for me it was the wine highlight of the week in a week where there were some highlight-worthy beauties on the table.
BACK TO BASICS
I had catch-up lunch the other day with a friend. We chose a local café, one that has recently changed hands.
After Alex and John sold the operation, business fell off, as it does when things change.
I thought, bugger it, I haven’t eaten there since the new owners moved in … so get it on.
I ordered a pot of English breakfast tea and a dish called the charcuterie board. My friend, who has an appetite like six people, ordered a garlic prawn entrée, the rabbit pie and a glass of orange juice. Yeah, right, no alcohol.
The drinks (it’s funny saying that when it’s not a reference to wine) arrived, closely followed by the waiter. “Sorry, but we are out of rabbit pie. Can I get you something else?”
“Yeah, a menu thanks.” Pretty basic, I would have thought.
After ordering a steak sandwich, we settled for a chat … which was interrupted this time by a waitress. “Sorry, but the prawns are just part of the entrée. It’s three parts from a choice of five.” I can’t remember the other parts, but the order went through.
Again we settled for a chat.
My pot of tea came without a strainer, so it was a less-then-pleasant dusty cup of tea. Pretty basic, that.
Then the charcuterie board arrived … a pleasant enough collection of cold cuts, warmed black pudding, a small tub of cornichons, some pretty ordinary cocktail pickled onions, a couple of bits of artichoke heart and some toast.
I did the polite thing and waited until my friend had something to gnaw on … it was a good five minutes before the waiter arrived with the steak sandwich.
We looked at each other. Wasn’t there an entrée?
Sure was. The waiter reappeared five minutes later with it. “Sorry, it’s a bit late,” he said as he made room for it on the table. Excuse me. Pretty basic, that.
“I’m pretty sure something is gonna get cold before I eat it,” said my friend.
“Sorry about that” was the best the waiter could do.
“Look, forget the entrée … take it back to the kitchen.”
“So you don’t want it now.”
“Right. It’s an entrée. I would have liked it before the main course,” said my friend who was struggling to be nice about it.
“So I should take it back to the kitchen.”
Oh, and apparently the steak was full of gristle.
“I think I’ll have dessert,” said my friend. We finally got the attention of the waiter and got a menu. Off he went to get the dessert, the remnants of lunch still sitting on the table a good 15 minutes after we’d finished.
Back came the waiter. They’d run out of whatever my friend had ordered. “Look, I’ll come in and have a look at what you have in the glass case.”
Then the waiter said: “Is it OK for me to take the dishes. Are you finished?”
Sweet mother of Jesus, mate, we finished quarter of an hour ago. Please, take the bloody dishes.
I took a phone call while my friend chowed down on his mud cake and ice-cream (like I said, it’s some appetite).
I don’t know how much lunch cost. I was still on the phone when my friend went in to pay the bill. Reckon I’m pretty sure though that he didn’t leave a tip, other than perhaps a verbal tip, such as “why don’t you lift your bloody game”.
IT HAS A RING TO IT
I received in the mail my official invitation to my friend, Andrew McUtchen’s wedding at the end of March.
To say that he and Fiona are well organised is an understatement (their website proves that). They’ve nailed it.
The envelope had the invitation, a map (it’s at Howqua), accommodation tips and a CD with a note: “It’s a long drive, so we thought we’d make you a mixtape of our favourite ‘driving to the mountains’ songs to help it pass a little quicker. Don’t rush, the scenery is beautiful.”
I listened to it on the way to lunch yesterday at Mordialloc … yes, Mordi-bloody-alloc. It’s great listening.
And speaking of great listening, Andrew is playing at the Albert Park Festival next Thursday (February 23). He’s a majorly talented singer-songwriter and apparently he’ll set up somewhere near the Albert Park Hotel. Get along and have a listen. It’ll be worth it.
IT’S THE MAKE-UP THAT COUNTS
Travelling home from work at lunch time on Monday, I watched the people sitting on the tram. Four seats across from each other included a guy tapping away at his phone, a girl reading something on an iPad, another bloke tapping at his phone and the girl next to him was using a mirror to do her make-up … perhaps a bit late in the day or maybe she’d had a big night. Dunno.
I people looked the other direction and it was much the same thing although there was a girl actually reading a book.
I turned back to the original four and there was make-up girl diligently doing the eyebrows (with a pencil) of the bloke next to her … he was right into it.
It reminded me of the last time I had some eye make-up applied. It was at a sometimes rowdy, very wine-oriented Greek Easter party at a friend’s house.
For some reason I ended up in the bathroom with a friend as she applied eye liner to my less-than-pretty face.
When we got back to the party action, my make-up girl’s husband must have thought it was an improvement because he spent the rest of the party grabbing my arse, something he continued every time I saw him at the local bar.
He’s on a strict warning that I’ll belt him if it happens again … and I’m a peace-loving bloke.
By the way, there was to my knowledge, no arse grabbing on the tram.
ME IN A NUTSHELL
- G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.