8.53am, Friday, 28th May, Lonsdale Street, 24 hr internet cafe, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Another grey drizzly day in Melbourne, but I like it. Where I come from, you can never have too much rain. I’ve been a bit grey myself this week, coughing and spluttering through the occupational hazard of this job – the pretty regular upper respiratory tract/chest/sinus infection. But we had a night off last night, and I have the weekend to myself for two days, so lots of sleep and my secret weapon for getting better – edamame beans – will be on the cards.
Oh – plus tomorrow morning’s Gunness world record ‘dressing up as a superhero’ event from 9 – 11.30am at Federation Square, which is going to be part of the worldwide celebrations for the 75th Anniversary of DC Comics. They’re hoping for up to 3000 Supermen, Batmen, Catwomen, Wonderwomen etc to show up – so if you’re into body armour, capes, tights and spandex in general – Fed Square will be the place to be.
And ****Hey Sportsfans : I’m going to my first footy match of the year where my Saints boys will take on the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium tomorrow night. I’d best get an early night tonight then!
Now to our most recent job: yesterday’s trip ‘around the bay for a bob’ to the Morning Star Estate near Mt Eliza on the top of the Mornington Peninsula.
We’re back to the water theme with this one, as the Morning Star is a 100-year-old mansion on 22 acres of sculptured gardens that sweep from the front verandah down to the sea. It sits on Port Phillip Bay directly across from the city of Melbourne – which I tried to catch in this pic of Pete, Leanne and Kelvin. That’s the bay on the horizon in the background. Pete and Leanne look after the trade in this part of the world, and Kelvin looks after them. (It’s a top team that distributes us here in Victoria, and I’ll try and get a pic of the boss man in the branch – Rohan – who has the world’s best collection of blue based business shirts, and is a nice boy with it!)
Back to the Morning Star, which once upon a time was a boy’s reformatory school run by Franciscan monks, and the room that we’re using for lunch today used to be the woodwork classroom. It’s now a restaurant and private hotel, and the chef – Tim Menger – has tried the wines and put together dishes specially matched up as a one-off menu for today’s lunch for 30 people from the ‘within 20 km of Mt Eliza ‘ trade.
Just reading the menu we could see that he has really gone to town with flavours and textures, and I’m pleased to report that there wasn’t anything at all that ‘didn’t go’. Our picks of the day? Definitely the ‘triple taste plate’ of pork terrine veal & chicken with apricot chutney, rabbit rillette on honey brioche, and blackrock smoked salmon & scrambled eggs – with the 2008 Virgilius and FDW 7C. Now this the sort of thing that makes it easy to see why foodie programs and books are doing so well. When everything lines up between the chef and the winemaker – it’s a great thing – and it’s not surprising that folks choose food and wine as a favourite pastime when you can. Tim Menger is a star and this course alone is as good as anything I’ve seen anywhere in the world. I was nervous it would be a bit rich – NO! The terrine was not chunky or greasy, just lovely flavours lit up by the apricot chutney that slid right into the Virgilius Viognier’s own stonefruit flavours. As did the fall-apart fibres of the savoury rabbit rillete on the honey soaked toast. Not to mention the shreds of local Blackrock salmon – not too smoky – ‘scrambled’ into the warm egg still in its shell that was made for the apple and pear lift of the FDW 7C chardonnay. I wish both winemakers – Louisa Rose (Virgilius) and Teresa Heuzenroeder (FDW 7C) – were here to see their wines fly in such great company. I was impressed.
Also, I’ve been watching great variations on the beef theme being done to complement the Great Australian Red Story Cab Shiraz blends, and Tim got it right again here. It’s the FDR 1A 2006 and 2004 The Reserve with a slow roasted 60 day grain fed Hopkins River beef fillet (with braised ox tail and a mustard sauce). Really simple flavours, and a steak you could peel apart with a fork. Enough said. If you’re in Melbourne – make the trip to the Morning Star – it’s worth it. Thanks Pete and Leanne – great choice to launch the new wines and tell our story. Thanks Tim – you should have your own show – “All the flavours with none of the attitude”, and thanks to everyone who came along and has us on their shelves: The Royal Hotel Mornington, The Langhi Hotel family owned, The Roti Man – you all know who you are. Just goes to show that there’s lots of good things going on outside the metro area.
**Hopkins River beef is a family-run operation near Dunkeld in Western Victoria, and this is the first time I’ve struck their stuff. I’s great. They do grass and grain finished beef, and you can find it in selected butchers shops and farmers markets around Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
So that’s us caught up to the minute. Today we’re staying in the city, and working with an old mate of ours that runs a private wine club. We’ll be showing the same set of wines as yesterday, but with Mediterranean flavours this time. So I’ll see you when it’s the end of the week.