“Whiskey and wine…..and fine fine fixins” ……….

8.05am, Rose Deli, Royal Street, East Perth, Western Australia

Morning wine fans – here’s hoping that this is going to be a bit of a different start to your usual morning reading. Let’s begin with Buck Owens….legendary American country music crooner, king of the ‘Bakersfield (California) sound’ that Dwight Yoakham keeps on keeping on. These boys are Americana to a ‘T’……and last night we tapped in to some of the same, delightfully crossed over with the best of Australian wine and foraged food! Yep, right here in Perth, Western Australia. Buck had a great song  “Cigarettes, and whiskey and wild wild women”…..you know the rest! And last night we turned that on its head with our first event of the ‘2015 Yalumba Rare & Fine – Changing of the Signature Cab Shiraz Guard’ Roadshow at Varnish on King – a whiskey bar that does fine wine and food…..really really well.

So last night I had a wonderful time with two delightful young men…….and that is pretty much how the fantasies of a lot of gals that live in my town – Angaston, Barossa Valley SA  population 1600 – start! But if you’re in the subterranean Brooklynesque redbrick, steel beam,  and timber vault with its high top tables and dark Chesterfield style buttoned leather banquettes lit by lovely old shaded lamps that is Varnish on King……and you throw in over a hundred whiskeys, bourbons and ryes from the USA and Canada, plus fried chicken wings, flights of bacon, pickled jalapeños and a great list of wines from the West as well as the rest of Australia…..run by the said two delightful young blokes – Lachlan Howarth (Kitchen and Wine) and Jamie Passmore (the spirit side of it all)….then that fantasy immediately becomes a tremendous reality. And what a top spot to start our national roadshow!

Sorry about the quality of my photos, the lighting is quite romantic, and I couldn’t locate the flash on my iPad! Here’s the bar….in my opinion – the best collection of bourbons, ryes and whiskey from America and Canada that I’ve seen in Australia. 

The chefs put together a ‘foraged and found’ menu together for the dinner that included sea spinach from Sunday nights surf line at a local beach…..for the salt lights in the Pearl barley mushroom risotto that was paired with our 2013 Risotto

***before we go any further, I’m making up for any high cholesterol stuff last night by having breakfast at the organic Rose Deli this morning – buckwheat porridge with rhubarb and fresh ginger!! I can feel my body thanking me already!

Now the star turn of the night folks – the new 2012 vintage The Signature Cabernet Shiraz named for our fearless leader and fifth generation wine man at the helm Robert Hill Smith – was paired with a ‘Scotch Egg with duck and barrel aged smoked chilli dressing’. Yes, the boys at Varnish have the chilli sauce ageing in a small barrel at the bar, and I suspect the odd bit of bourbon and bacon dust finds its way in there as well as the heat……and it set the shredded duck meat off nicely, once you broke through that crispy outer just thick enough to be a shell layer of ‘the egg’. No photo sorry….but trust me, the lush layers of the Signature loved the texture of the duck, and sometimes it was coffee, dark fruits, cinnamon spice from the wine and twangy heat and richness from the duck – bit of a fabulous food wine ebb and flow really – well done the chefs, and the Signature as well – it loved the chilli!

I didn’t have the last course of the evening, the ‘very cool take on surf & turf’ – “Pressed Beef Cheek with Prawn, plum chutney and bacon powder”, but going by the oohs and ahs of the other diners……it hit the mark paired with the big elegant Barossa Shiraz double header of the 2010  Paradox and 2009 The Octavius!!

So remember how we started this write up? “Whiskey and wine and fine fine fixins**”…….thanks Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakham, and everyone else keeping Americana alive…..and to Varnish on King who have tapped in to its distilled heart and tangled it up beautifully with great Australian wine and local food and talent from the West. Get on to King Street in Perth, find the massive timber doors at number 75, and go down those stairs and introduce yourself. I’m  on their mailing list and you should be too!! 

**fixins in the American South folks means the sides that go with the main course

PS Mike Bennie – they have an excellent green truckers cap too!!

Thanks a million Varnish!! Our roadshow is away!! 


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