Raymond Capaldi – Pots, Pans and Magic Food!

8.05am, Sunday 14th June, Adelaide Airport, South Australia

Yes folks, back at the airport, and still playing catch up with what we’ve been up to on our Yalumba Rare & Fine roadshow around Australia. I’m on the milk run up to Cairns – Far North Queensland (you’ll see that as FNQ a lot in the blog over the next week – it’s tropical rainforest meets the reef country up there ) – so will have a chance to add on what we did last week in Melbourne. We did a wine and food matching lunch at Ludlows Bar & Dining on Southbank with our mates from the Colonial Tramcar, Eureka Skydeck and 89, Temperance Hotel, Bearbrass, Turf Sports Bar, Hophaus and Pj O’Briens (Southbank and Tullamarine). We try and catch up once each year with what’s new in our wine world….and how lucky were we on this occasion that Raymond Capaldi – Scots import celebrity chef – was between stoves, having just closed his Hare & Grace restaurant last month after 5 fab years. And yes, this is the same Raymond Capaldi that was with Mr Masterchef Gary Meghin at Fenix in Melbourne, but hey……Ray had already done time on the stoves at Gleneagles (yes THE Gleneagles, beautiful rambling old pile of legendary golf course guarding stones north of Edinburgh) , the Dorchester Hotel in London (yes the one with the exquisitely turned out doormen in the top hats and the high tea that they’ve made into an art frm) and the British Embassy in Moscow. So when it comes down to it……Ray has ‘been around’ top end food for a very long time in a very nice way.

So… I say again….how lucky were we that he was ‘between kitchens’ last week and was available to cook for us. He put the dishes together specifically for the wines we were fathering, and every single thing that came out on a plate folks – announced itself aromatic ally before it landed. This guy is better than good……Raymond Capaldi is a wizard when it comes to food.

Now I’d better post this now, because they’ll be calling my flight soon, but I’ll be back from the Sydney airport to continue. 

PS I went straight from the Melbourne airport (incoming from our day and night in Hobart ) to Ludlows, and first job? Double decant the Reds! “I know my decanting funnel is I here somewhere!”

12.22pm, Same Day, Sydney Airport, Gate 6

OK folks, quick stopover in Sydney – chance to do the first dish of that day out in Melbourne with Raymond Capaldi cooking…… 

This is confit salmon – I was so mesmerised by what Ray was saying that I completely forgot to write anything down! And seeing as each dish seemed to surpass the last, I have nothing whatsoever to say apart from….wherever he opens his next kitchen….go! And yes – with our Viognier …..perfect! I’m thrilled to bits that I actually took the photos….

For our single site Shirazes – 2010 Paradox ( meaty, from the Moppa to the poor th of the Barossa) and 2009 Steeple (on the brick red dirt right next to the Light Pass church with the tidy white steeple…hence the name ) Ray suggests roast vegetables! And folks, this is the single best roast carrot doused with a sticky sauce reduced from our very own wines – that I’ve ever had. The plum, florals and mint are to offset the aromatics of the wine……this chef is a serious thinker, and I – for one – love his work!

Now we get into the heavyweight reds – starting with the Cabernet Shiraz blends 2012 Scribbler and 2012 Signature –  the Signature being named for our fearless leader (for the last 30 years) Robert Hill Smith and is deceptively lush but built for the longer journey! Raymond served up what I call ‘Shiny beef and beets’. The beef being slow cooked fall apart into fibres cheeks, and the beets being soaked then ‘shrink wrapped’ in their own skin and roasted into sweet concentrated purple ……special! I’ve never had such good beets, and that’s even in the USA where beets are vegetable royalty! Oh, and the mashed potato was so chock full of butter that the scoop on the plate had set a really fine ‘skin’. No, there wasn’t any left on anyone’s plate!

And then, for the big shiraz driven finish……..pork fat and coffee crumbs combined to make a choc centre donut…..with cheese! No…..it doesn’t get much better than this!


This was a truly fabulous showcase of our wine and Raymond’s extraordinary talent with food. They’ve just made a foodie blogger documentary and its on at the Sydney Film Festival…….and this is the reason why. It CAN be so good. So all I can say is….watch the food press and whenever Raymond lands and the new place opens ……flock there with your friends…..and go eat with the Wizard. 

One response to “Raymond Capaldi – Pots, Pans and Magic Food!

  1. Goof work JMF…keep hanging in. Today drove around some vales in Wiltshire and took in some national gardens. Also dropped into classy pub or two in Pewsey…No riesling-a disgrace !

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