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cullen pinot

I’ve a flu crapping on me and work is getting to the “bees! in my head!” stage so I’m not feeling very posty, yet I tire of looking at the cheese and ghekin delight. So yes something from the crypt and here are some pics from Cullen Wines from my trip down south a couple of weeks ago. Deserved though, newer wineries and restaurants have drawn attention away from this stayer but I was glad we stopped in for the first time in many years. We just had entrees each and can’t remember being so satisfied with such a relatively small lunch. The Pinot was a bit sharp for what I like in Pinot and, inexplicably, I didn’t do any other tasting.

cullen tart
cullen mushrooms
cullen sardines
cullen bar and glasses cullen wall gnome cullen

The last pic is to further amuse Crafty for making me a rocking good Mapron.


figssageprociuttoSaturday night dinner invite from Craftapalooza in a kind of Perth handfertigkeit blogger conference. Unusually, I had no cooking to do. Nothing, not even a salad. Instead, Toni and I went wine shopping with the nice idea of finding a wine of the same vintage as our wedding anniversary, getting half a dozen and enjoying them over the next 6 years, after which we would divorce amicably. ’98s aren’t the easiest to get a hold of so I went back to the bottle shop at Steve’s, Nedlands and its amazing cellar do see what could be found.

I honestly had no idea, so asked the manager – cabernet, aging potential, light, fortiish. He wandered off to the computer and came back 20 minutes later with a dozen pages of print out puts with likely suspects marked with a biro. Not a good year for Maragaret River but a good one for the Coonawarra region in South Australia. Came down to the Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon or the Majella. 20 minutes of searching yielded 6 bottles of the former so we went with that. Well recommended for their range and their help, a few more occasional good bottles might be in order though it’s hard to just get one with the lure of a 10% discount for half a dozen. Will be trying out the first bottle next week. Hope we like it.


A quick stop at Maison Perry of Dalkeith (actually broadway Nedlands) for the rare Perth treat of a savoury brioche. Handsome looking petite fours but bought some micro-eclairs to take along to dinner. The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning out the pantry and marvelling at the natural wonder of weevil colonies (apologies to anyone whose had a red lentil curry over at ours).


The Japanese are great avoiders of socially awkward moments and usually avoid eating at the houses of people they don’t know particularly well in favour of restaurants. I’m a little bolder but always make sure to follow a few basic principles. Check for exits – is the front door locked, is there a back door, what do you land on on the other side of the window. Check the kitchen – are the knives on a rail, you’ve got two seconds; in a block, a couple more; in a draw, probaly five or six and they’ll be in the second draw. Household items – sure it doesn’t look like much, but a French Knitting Santa could be your best friend in a tight situation. Be aware – does your seat face the kitchen, good, but is there another way to the dining room behind you. Be prepared – always have a drink in your hand, momentary blinding gives you valuable seconds.

lambkormaDinner. Dinner was wonderful. I’m a big fan of figs and prosciutto but grilling them with a sage leaf and drizzling with burnt butter sauce made all kinds of porky sense. Mains was the barbecued lamb cutlets with the nice touch of being able to do the korma dipping and crushed almond encrusting ourselves. Crunch from the shoot salad and tasty carbos from the Aloo Gobi (yes, yes aloo to you to too). Handy hints were heating the roti in the frezer and keeping flour in the sandwich press. Good stuff. Chris was responsible for these and aptly got them from Delicious magazine. Apparently he’s also a dab hand with pastries and can crank out home made pasta in under 20. I don’t doubt this, I had no here-let-me-do-that-pangs whatsoever.

licoriceicecreamNicole borrowed an ice-cream maker and treated us to home made licorice ice-cream with honey biscuit. I’m usually a bit iffy about aniseed and licorice but this was excellent, creamy without being overly sweet. A perfect finish. I was amazed how smoothly dinner prep went. My own dinner party kitchen efforts usually look like a one man version of Das Boot to the tune of a klaxon.

viellefermeDrinks we’re my responsiblity and went with a Ninth Island Reisling for starters which I found pleasant enough, if a little lemony insipid. Kingfisher lager was to go with the curry and did its job well. Finally I picked up a bottle Perrin 2000 Cotes du Ventoux La Vieille Ferme at Steve’s to try. I love it. LOVE. Australian wines can be all “and on the trombone” but this French wine plucked away at my tongue like a koto. I drank most of it. A grenache I’m told. Under $15 dollars. I would like must have more.

eclairman2The last of the red saw the end of an evening. Quality chat based around a common friend, food, knick knacks, Jawbreaker, and me knowing roughly what a Toyota rokuhachi is (rear wheel drive four significantly lighter than the Volvo) and does (slides). We were seen off with CDs and chutney. A lovely evening, and thanks greatly we’ll reciprocate soon. Forgot the micro-eclairs, bugger.



I remembered my monthly eggy cycle not with the stomach but with the brain when Chris Sheil gave post-modernism CPR after the beating it received from angry villagers, accusing it of pinching apples and looking funny. I was just there to defend scrambled eggs, I’m a simple man¹.

I was going to go for the perfect poached egg but a slight victory hangover called for fried. Not very inspired I know, but chance favours the prepared mind and a 1/4 full bottle of last night’s shiraz was at hand. Too late go through the elaborate procedure of Bacon and Eggs Poached in Red Wine I just poured a glass in the frypan once the whites had set and placed a lid on. A quick dash outside to get a twig of rosemary from the garden to add. Simmered until the yolks were cooked. A tasty sunny side up finish to the eggs and an instant jus to be soaked up by the bread. The bread was New Norcia sourdough and was joined by fried roma tomatoes, bacon, and hash browns.


If you’d like to know more or be a part of EoMEoTE²#4 please speak with our lovely host of the month and founding member Jeanne. The round-up will be in a week or so.

¹But I do know what I like. I woke up one morning to the guest “post-modernist” chef on Good Morning America telling us about his [gasp!]edible menu and [swoon!] hot/cold soup. The former dismissed by the Flinstone writers long ago in favour of the “bringing the table tennis table to the French restaurant” gag, and the latter showing he’s never used a microwave. He would have been covering himself with mud for a performance piece twenty years ago and choking on Gitanes Sans Filtre, forty. Stick to carny son.

²EoMEoTE is a global iniative to promote accessible engagement with simple food and shared experiences. All are welcome to partcipate. Spiceblog uses and encourages the use of free-range eggs.

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I know it may seem , having got past the initial step of being able to identify wine as wine, that I stumbled at the next stage of distinguishing between red and white. I could ask for pity as I suffer from the debilitating genetic illness of partial red-green colour blindness and subsequent humiliation at the hands of Ishihara test administrators. I’m also prone to the “hardware store effect” as well double-entedric distraction. As a result, I humbly submit to Wine Blogging Wednesday #6 heads down south – South African Reds, a chenin blanc.

The occasion was Greg Manthatcatchesgreatfish was bringing over some dhufish fillets from said great fish for cooking. Joining us was Anonymous of Floreat, glorying in topping the sales figures for Supermart and handily bringing an Australian chenin from a winery bought by a South African. How apropos.


First off was the Halina Brook Estate 2003 Chenin. Unusually north for a West Australian wine with a vineyard near Bindoon. I can only tell you what I wrote on my kitchen whiteboard and that was “densely packed citric bite in an oily enteric coating“. Thinking back it was better than that sounds, a sharp hit that grabbed the tongue with a heavyweight refreshing linger.

Unusually further west was, from Stellenbosch South Africa, the Morgenhof Estate 2001 Chenin Blanc (or “Steen” as they say on the veldt). Immediately noticeable, even to me, was the richer gold colour of the wine. A shade over $20 a bottle, it’s midplaced between equivalent budget bests and lower premiums in price which sets up certain expectations. It has a simple trick and I fell for it. Like any song with a cow-bell, any wine that can tranport its flavour across my tongue in a sherbety fashion will have my love. And it does. Nothing else interfered with it, not the stone fruitiness or the warm nose. If you like this effect I don’t need to tell you any more, in fact I can’t. Thank you South Africa.


As for the meal. The dhufish fillets were cooked on a stovetop griddle just in butter. They are not to be messed around with. I found “done” occurred just as the fillet looked like it was going to flake. For a simple match I had Pommes Veronique without the garlic and good dab of goose fat; oven roasted asparagus; and a bernaise without the sorrel tarragon sauce on the side. It’s a magnificent piece of fish, sweet and unfishy without being bland. A West Australian must have.

Egg whites to be rid of led to the soufflé omlette. The combination of 4 egg yolks with 115gm of caster sugar, whisked until pale and creamy with 30ml of Cointreau added once done. Egg whites whisked until stiffly peaked with a little extra caster sugar added slowly for extra hold and gloss. A third mixed in with the yolks and then the rest folded in. Baked in a long baking dish in the oven at 150C for 10 minutes, some strawberries dropped in and then warmed brandy and Cointreau poured over. Light the match and ….. oh well, must have gone straight to the bottom. The dessert that wasn’t there, sugar and booze mysteriously appears in the mouth.

Rest of the meal spent with readings of The Philosopher in the Kitchen. Hilarious. Best thing since the Scarlet Pimpernel.


Typically well written red round-up from Jeanne at A barrel of South African reds – WBW#6 round-up, Part I and Part II

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Pim has gone a further turn of the corkscrew with this month’s collective wine review event, Wine Blogging Wednesday, with her chosen theme of Wacky-name wines. My choice, a local wine, the 2001 Swagman’s Kiss Chardonnay.

The swagman is the chief character of our semi-official national anthem Waltzing Matilda and the wine’s maker Clairault Winery is without doubt one the finest wineries to stop at in the Margaret River region of our South West. What we see on the label is clearly informed by the myth of Narcissus and we feel for our vagabound friend as the cooling waters of the billabong touch his parched lips and automatically associate with the cooling glass of Chardonnay over lunch on a hot day.

I always think of itinerant 19th century farmworkers. The coarse rub of an unwashed woolen shirt outdone only by the rough stubble and breath notes of cold mutton fat and ‘baccy in a time when dental hygiene was unheard of. A kiss from a man whose last partner is affectionately referred to as Baabara which he may have gotten or given syphilis. The roughened hands sent a rovin’ by a warm bottle of ale. I could go on.


Tasting gets off to a promising start by it being pre-openedly dubbed “Swagman’s Piss” by fellow pool surrounders. Off we go then. Substantial straw colour and then indistinct lemon whiffs on the nose. Leather strap smoothness across the tongue with an acid finish to the muted fruit tones. Filled out and interest created by citric highs with oily flats and a pleasing coolness sorely missed as the glass heats.

There we have it, Chardonnay is lager made with grapes and a slice of lemon in it. Nice enough wine, ill chosen name. Now as for the kiss, well how about it swaggy? Hey well fuck you too.

It’s on: Go read the roundup. It’s a wheeze. Cheers and thanks Pim.


Bought 6 bottles of the Peter Lehmann 2002 Barossa Semillon yesterday at the low low price of $7.50 a bottle yesterday and had to give it a try before I bought bigger volumes for festos.

It is good, at first I thought oily but then , after another try it starts with a lemony buhwang and then sits there softly aaahhhooooohhhhhhwaahhhhh with a slight back of the throat cymbal work. Lager wine came to mind and, keeping that low low price in mind, I was happy.

The came the pasta. A dried and unusual looking pasta. filejia, that looks like a play-doh attempt at a cigarette. Lemon for pasta sauce is in tomatoes, a new world travesty, are out. Don’t argue. The sauce was:

one chopped red chilli and two chopped garlic cloves- sauteed in EVOO; followed by 150gm of proscuitto (not the paper thin slices but a couple of mill); and then a squeezed lemon and added its zest

Let’s see



…………….salty meaty salty salty


buhwanggaaahhhooooohhhhhhwaahhhhh tsktsktsktsktsts

Good. Off they go those crazy kids.

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Lenn at Lenndevours had a fine proposal for a wine blogging day. Drink a bottle of New World sub-$15 Merlot. It’s a big ask.

Merlot is rarely seen by itself in Western Australia, usually it’s seen blended with Cabernet. South Australia has Merlot and I don’t know why but South Australia is still a great mystery to me even if it is the gateway to the rest of Australia. Because of it appearing as a combo I thought that maybe I could set it up as whether it’s Simon or Garfunkel, then I realise I hated both of them, especially Paul Simon with his kitschy rip offs of African Music to salvage his career. What happened to Art Garfunkel? Why am I talking about them?

Less than favourable conditions to taste wine with bogeys stretching back to my toes and mid week knackerment but onwards I went, ordered a Margherita pizza and stopped in at the bottle shop on the way there. The Merlot range is one of the cheapest and I had little trouble finding the one under the budget limit. I chose the most likely to be available elsewhere and chose “Australia’s Oldest Family Owned Brewery” – Yalumba and their 2002 Vintage Merlot from South Oz. Noticed a Houghton Pemberton Merlot, which is from WA but it was over budget.


Excellent, and spectacular value giving French wines 5 or 6 times its price a run for their money. Superb with Meat or Pasta.


[Blows nose]. Promising palate, smooth entry, is that vanilla there, custard?, certainly berries, which ones?-not sure. The initial smoothness give way to sharpness which hangs around a bit longer than I’d like. Certainly better than the $10 bottle of Sangiovese I had the other day but inoffensiveness stymies inspiration. Pizza didn’t interfere with the taste but I suggest something to eat soon after to finish the finish.


Cheap but the most interesting thing about it was for West Australians to say oh isn’t Merlot usually blended. To be fair to the age of it, it was close to the 2-3 years of recommended cellaring. Forgettable, but as an added feature it’s got a little perforated square on the back label that you can tear off and keep for future reference. New World eh!

This will in fact be the last drop of booze for me for the next month. I should have had two bottles. Drink posts for September will be more like this but shakier.

!Roundupdate: Lenn has (mer)lots


Listen All of Y’all it’s a Pinotage

Listen All of Y’all it’s a Pinotage

Jeanne of Cook sister, has been horse whispering and lured me away from local wine and into trying a South African one – she’s right, think hemispherically. Check out Henley Wine Fair and realise why I’m more than happy to humbly take her advice. Always on the lookout for something new, a Pinotage (Hermitage and Pinot Noir) captured my interest.

To do it justice, I got a leg of lamb from the freezer. My Dad’s gone soft and become less of a mutton purist in his old age, Pah! Still, with him and a good friend up in Muntadgin – a steady supply of meat has been assured. Fear that lamb may become a specialist meat in the future, they’re hard work, the shearers aren’t there, there are other ways of restoring the soil (ploughing crops in) so more and more farmers are getting out of sheep.

Leg was done in a new marinade inspied by the simple but trusty “Best Backyard BBQ Cookbook”. The recipe called for a butterfly, but I was feeling proper Sunday Roasty. Cleaned up the fat and skin- cross scored it and coverered it with the marinade for one hour.


2tbs Jingilli olive oil, 1tbs of green peppercorns – crushed, 3 cloves of garlic- minced, 2tbs of fresh mint mashed together in a mortar.


Three tubers of Jerusalem Artichoke, Sweet Potato, and Royal Blue Potatoes. All parboiled and roasted, with the late addition of some Broccolini splashed with olive oil.

Eating and Drinking

Loved the roast – served with a simple red wine jus. JA’s could have been more thinly sliced. Broccolini florets dry out very quickly. I often double cook the roast, just cooking the outside half and finishing the inside for later in the oven. I don’t know if there’s anything wrong with this – it means I get the right balance of doneness. Then again, it does scream too fast cooking and potential food poisoning.

The wine was very pleasant. It was much softer than I’d been warned and liked the non-jamminess…erm self-conscious alert. I’ll stop there and will promise to look West more often for my wines (as you Easterners should).

No pics I’m afraid- camera ate my memory card.

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A few years back now I used to enjoy stopping over at at Canadian friend’s tiny run-down apartment in Yokohama. We’d stop off at the su-pa- to get some beers and a bottle or two of French wine and drink until the small hours of the morning, listening to North Korean organ music on the radio, and getting through a few topics like the Russian language and four wheel drifting on ice. My getting my greasy fried chicken hands all over one of his immaculate copies of Car Magazine sparked a discussion on all food being good if fried. This led to the laughable idea of fried wine. My regular blog reads have been abuzz with things about food and health so I’ve been inspired to turn a 2am dream into reality


If deep fried ice-cream can work, then so can this. I’d turn wine into jelly (the gelatinous jesus) and then cover it with batter and fry it. It was wine with beer batter, then it was beer with beer batter (which made more sense but wasn’t “the dream”), and then I thought that instead of beer for fizziness, I could use champagne.


I’d made jellied treats before but never with Agar-Agar . Agar Agar is used in Asian food and,as it’s a seaweed, by vegetarians.

Used two cups of dry red wine, 6 tablespons of Agar Agar

Brought the wine to a boil, and then put in the agar agar and let it simmer for 20 minutes and then strained (clean the strainer quickly as it sets). Put the wine in the fridge to chill. It’s incredibly strong, I remember waiting for jelly to set as a kid, but this was set as soon as it reached fridge temperatures.


Went off to Chuntney Mary’s Indian Restaurant on the corner of Hay and Rokeby. We were actually on the corner, outside – Subiaco was heaving, it seemed to be half price drinks night for jailbait. Food was great again – go the goat. Brought friends back to share in the experiment.


Just one egg, SR flour and a half bottle of champagne lightly beaten.


Used corn oil for frying and brought it up to 180c. Process was quite simple, a teaspoon of wine jelly dipped in the batter and the fried until golden. Well recommended to have a lid handy, any contact by the jelly with the oil sets of a shower of hot oil.


Disappointing but promising, the batter was great but the dry red was just too harsh. Under the guidance of a Doctor and an Engineer, I reduced the quantity of jelly, and added two or three tablespoon of caster sugar to the batter. This helped a little but the wine was still the problem – something gentler perhaps.


I’ve heard dusting helps the batter stick, I could dust with icing sugar to increase the sweetness. Breadcrumbs might bulk up the batter and make it a greater proportion of the flavour. I could add sugar to the wine but that’d make it more like a wine gum. Bitter chocolate sauce?

Daniel McNeil – thumbprints sorry.

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