Sunday, July 10, 2011

Red is the new White.

A couple of weeks ago I won another competition. This time it was through one of our favourite wineries, Tahbilk in Nagambie. The prize was two tickets (valued at $150 each) to their Wine Club Dinner at the Comme Bar, in the city. SH was pretty excited about the prize as the dinner was actually their "Celebration of Shiraz" dinner. A four course meal, with shiraz tastings at each course. He was salivating! I, on the other hand, was more excited about the food. My dad felt that he should go in my place, and his logic was faultless... I don't drink red wine - only white wine, so it would be wasted on me. Unfortunately I had to disappoint him. There was no way I was missing out on this! I decided that if ever I was going to learn how to drink red wine, this dinner would be my chance. I can't talk about all these wonderful foods in this blog (although admittedly a lot of my favourite foods are sweet dishes) without being well rounded in my tastes. I can't spend my whole life completely ignoring red wine!

Our night began with pre-dinner drinks, glasses of Sparkling Shiraz, which were presented to us as we reached the top of the grand staircase. Half an hour of small talk later and we were shown to our tables in the Grand Room. We were seated with 7 other people, right up the front of the room. Our table was all decked out, with three glasses of Shiraz in front of each place. When I say glasses, they were tasters, so there was about 100ml in each. We were very lucky to be seated at the table with one of the Winemakers and his wife. He was a great talker, and happy to answer all our questions. It was also a plus sitting with him as he told us the order we should taste the wines in, as opposed to the order we were supposed to drink them. He smelled each wine, looked at each glass and then said "this one first" etc. When we did as he suggested, you could really appreciate what he was getting at.

We also got to take home the Shiraz Grape Jelly!

The remainder of the people at our table were great fun, and we had some very lively conversations going around them all. I found that the man sitting next to me had never drunk wine at all, he was a beer drinker, but it turns out his favourite rum is also mine - Mt. Gay. Anyway, enough about the people. I was talking about food and wine!

The menu for the evening was like something straight out of MasterChef. I was in heaven!

Carpaccio of venison with celeriac, Lyonnaise salad, soft cooked quail egg.
Wines: 1991 Shiraz, 2002 Shiraz, 2008 Shiraz

O'Connors Striploin, tongue and cheek with horseradish croquette, jus viande
Wines: 1999 Reserve Shiraz, 2003 ESP Shiraz, 2006 ESP Shiraz
The "steak" is the tongue and the darker meat is the cheek. They were actually both delicious!

Cheese Plate:
Will Studds aged cheddar, parsley cream, quince and watercress
Wines: 1995 Magnum 1860 Vines Shiraz, 2005 Magnum 1860 Vines Shiraz
I didn't like the parsley cream, it tasted like lawn clippings!

Coffee and Petit fours
Wine: Muscat

Our evening finished with an invitation from the Winemaker to ask for him personally when we next travel to Tahbilk. SH is very excited about it, he loves that sort of thing. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and by the end of the evening, I had come to enjoy the taste of the Shiraz too. My favourite was the 1999 Reserve Shiraz, but don't ask me why. My taste for it is still too new to really break it down for you. I will say, that I am certain I will try other red wines now. I'm no longer afraid of trying them. I might not like them all, but I am sure to like some of them!

Finally I would like to leave you with a photo of me, enjoying a glass of red. Nothing momentous for most people, but something that my family felt sure they would never see me do.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Secret Family Recipes

I am very excited about my prize for the May Foodie Competition from albumworks and am really looking forward to spending the $100 voucher on making my own photobook. I have decided to use this opportunity to make my own personal cookbook (might be my only chance!), making the recipes that have been passed down from my Grandma, Oma, and various relatives and family friends. Once I have made them, I will photograph them, same as I have been for this blog, and then put it all together into an album. I have been tossing around names for the album, and think I am going to settle on "Secret Family Recipes". Which is silly, I know, considering that I share the recipes on here anyway! It just sounds cool to me. If someone asks me how did I make my Grandma's Nut Loaf, I can say it's a "Secret Family Recipe". (yes, yes, I am that lame!)

Anyway - my family are looking forward to me doing this as they get to eat all of our favourite recipes too! It's turning out to be heaps of fun already, and I have even tried a recipe that I have never been game to do before.

It was my sister's birthday at the end of June and we had dinner at my mum and dad's house with the whole family. I usually bring a dessert along, so decided to make a cake. Looking through my list of recipes that I want to put into the album I saw that I had put a "Blowaway Sponge" on the list. I've never made a sponge before as I have heard that they can be quite tricky. So I figured that now was the time to give it a try. I have been getting more adventurous with my cooking, so I figured I was up for the task. It turned out well, with only a minor sag in the middle. I have since made another for my neighbour as a birthday cake, and will probably make a third before it makes it to the cookbook.

Blowaway Sponge with whipped cream, Peaches and Passionfruit.
It's the first week of the school holidays now, and the kids are looking forward to baking with me. They love helping, mostly because they can lick the bowl, or taste the biscuit dough. Yesterday afternoon I made a batch of Oma's Chocolate & Vanilla Biscuits, a definite family favourite.

Chocolate & Vanilla Biscuits
These are very easy to make, and they look great. They are absolutely delicious too. I am going to play with the recipe a bit, add some different flavours, maybe mix up the colours a bit. Whatever I decide to do, I have a ready supply of taste-testers lining up to help.