Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, Melbourne

Last Sunday, I enjoyed a quiet lunch with J at Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons prior to heading to the movies to see Tomorrow When the War Began.

Reading a few other blogs and some reviews, it seemed that Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons was a really good traditional Italian restaurant.

It was cold and rainy outside so some comfort food and probably some pasta seemed like a great idea. We arrived just before midday as we wanted to be able to take our time and enjoy our lunch. We ordered a 1/2 litre carafe of the Crittenden Estate Pinot Gris while we took a closer look at our place mat menus.

To begin with we decided on the mixed marinated olives served warm and the Burrata - unspun cow's milk/cream mozzarella with hot focaccia and lemon.
The mixed olives included - Australian Gordal Green, Australian Wild Brown, Manzanilla Black, Salt Dried Kalamata, Arbequina Black, and Taggiasche Black. The salt dried kalamata were probably my least favourite but the gordal green were to die for!

The Burrata was probably the highlight of the entire meal. Presented quite simply on the plate, a little 'sack' of mozzarella drizzled with some olive oil, some hot bread and a wedge of lemon. Although the menu described the cheese as a cream mozzarella, little did I know that when I cut into it that this creamy goodness would ooze out. We squeezed on some lemon and dug in. Creamy and subtle with the lemon and olive oil zing to balance it out. I could have eaten three of these and had nothing else!

Next, onto our mains. J ordered the Spaghetti "Arrabbiata" with crab, tomato and chilli baked in a paper bag and I ordered the Bucatini with squid, tomato, chilli, red wine and pancetta. I must admit, I wish I had J's pasta. Mine was really tasty and very traditional however J's was incredibly good. Decent amount of crab, right amount of chilli and the pasta was cooked perfectly. J has Italian heritage and even made the comment that the sauce tasted like her Nonna's. Looking at the picture below, it looks like a big old mess, but looks can be deceiving!

Excellent for a slow Sunday lunch with a warm pasta and some wine. Especially on a cold day. Will definitely be returning.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wine Tour - Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Just this week I returned from a 6 day trip to Tasmania. Starting in Hobart we made our way around to Launceston where we headed out to the Tamar Valley to stay a few nights and spend a day on a wine tour through the region before continuing the rest of our travels.

The Tamar Valley is just north of Launceston, approximately 15 minutes from the CBD and runs along the mighty Tamar River. The Tamar Valley is becoming more and more well known for its cool climate wines, in particular its Pinot Noir and Riesling.

We were challenged with constant rain for the whole day, but we didnt let that dampen our spirits, we had 6 wineries to get through! Our Tour Guide Terry picked us up directly from our accomodation and had printed up individual tasting notes for each winery with plenty of room for us to write our own tasting notes as well.

A few weeks back I was reading an article in Gourmet Traveller's WINE about some of Australia's best Chardonnays and was excited to see that Tasmanian Chardonnays were fast becoming clear challengers to the establishment of Australian chardonnay. I was more excited to discover that the itinerary that Terry had put together for us, ensured that I was going to be able to sample two of the wines they had listed.

First winery was Velo Wines, and unbeknown to us, 200 meters from where we were staying.  Aptly named, Velo means bicycle in French and is run by Mary and Michael Wilson who is an former Olympian and Tour de France cyclist come winemaker. Both are extremely passionate about their wines and discussed their expansion to include a restaurant as well as their cellar door. The 2008 Velo Chardonnay (wooded) was listed in Gourmet Traveller's WINE as one of the challengers to the establishment. One word. Fantastic. Im not a huge chardonnay drinker but I bought a bottle of this to take home. Light, with citrus and peach notes, smoky on the nose but not too smoky on the palate. Very different to any chardonnay I have had before. Cannot wait to return when the restaurant is open!

Next up we headed to Rosevears Estate. Part of Pirie Wines, Rosevears was recently bought out by Tamar Ridge Estates. Dr Andrew Pirie is still chief winemaker and now CEO of all Tamar Ridge Estates. The Pirie Sparkling was probably my favourite here.

View of the Tamar River from the Cellar Door at Rosevears Estate - Yes there is a river down there somewhere!
Back in the car and off to Ninth Island. Probably one of the more well known Tasmanian wineries. We were lucky enough to be able to taste a $125 bottle of their cabernet sauvignon which was sensational. Ninth Island is part of Kreglinger Wine Estates, along with Pipers Brook Vineyard. We tasted a good selection of Ninth Island and Pipers Brook Wines here. The Pipers Brook 2009 Pinot Gris was really lovely, but the highlight of this winery would have to have been the toilet signs!

Cute! - Ninth Island
By this time we were begining to get extremely hungry, so our next stop was Moores Hill Estate where we would stop off to devour a few cheese platters and take in the valley.

Moores Hill Estate
Moores Hill was a really stunning vineyard. The cellar door which incorporates a semi-cafe where you can enjoy cheese platters is really warm and welcoming, the open fire adds a nice touch. We took a seat on the verandah looking out over the vineyard (see above) and soon after our Cheese Platters arrived!

So on our platter we had a selection of Tasmanian Cheeses... the Ashgrove Smoked Cheddar, Tasmanian Heritage 'Red Square' Washed Rind Brie, Tasmanian Heritage 'Blue Opal' Blue Brie, homemade quince paste, some gherkins, salami and a sundried tomato and olive tapanade. All with a basket of fresh baguette and crackers. The Blue Brie was my favourite, smooth and creamy and since the others arent huge blue fans, I got to eat most of it! We enjoyed these with a bottle of the Moores Hill Riesling.

It was getting close to 2.30pm and we had been on the go (and on the wine) since 10am. Terry met us back at Moores Hill and we decided that we would just like to visit one more winery. So we head off to Tamar Ridge Estate.

Unfortunately by this stage I think we were all a little bit over it and a little bit tired (and maybe a teensy bit drunk), so I dont have all that much to say about Tamar Ridge Estate. However, I made the decision that this would give me a good excuse to come back, visit again and visit the wineries we didnt get to visit on this trip.

Overall apart from the rain, it was a great day and we really enjoyed it. Would recommend a tour through the valley, but maybe in summer when its a little nicer!