• Grape Therapy – Brisbane

    Grape Therapy – Brisbane

    21/11/2019

    On the twenty first of November we are travelling north to Brisbane to visit our friend Federico at Grape Therapy.

    Freddy has been up in Brisbane (Ex Hugos at Manly) for over a year now running Proud Henry Wine Bar and Ginoteca in Fortitude Valley and Grape Therapy Wine Merchants and Drinking Den in Brisbane.

    If you haven’t been in yet, you are missing out.

    These are really cool bars.

    At Grape Therapy Freddy gets a talented friend in to do the food. Last years lunch was absolutely delicious.

    So, Im looking forward to getting back.

    Bookings are through Grape Therapy on (07) 3102 7213. Dinner and matched wines is $140 and it’s a 6:30pm start.

    Should be a great night

    Address: 471 Adelaide St, Brisbane City QLD 4000

    Websitewww.grapetherapy.com.au 

     

  • Melbourne

    The next morning I wander around Adelaide looking for coffee and see this. I remember Lanzafame getting a similar accolade a few years ago.
    We leave Adelaide to drive a torturous leg to the 11 Apostles (one fell over recently). We drive through Langhorn Creek which is an awesome wine region founded in 1850. I dont know how old these vines are but the trunks are 10 inches thick!!!
    Our chosen route takes us via ferry over the Murray River. I suspect theres a Melbourne Cup Party tomorrow……

     

    Murals on silos are all the rage. These things are HUGE!

    Driving through Vic. They have had some rain here. Its greener and lush with fat sheep dotting the landscape

    Havent seen NSW like this for a while. Vic looks great.

    We passed various styles of solar electricity generators and a big windmill farm in Vic.

     

    As we approach the 11 apostles we pass London Bridge

     

    The cliffs are stunning

    Theres a little stub remaining of apostle 12

     

    I couldnt have been more wrong. When you leave the 12 apostles to go to Apollo Bay you go up and over hills. We drove straight into a cloud, it was raining, visibility was down to 20 meters. When we went to make a turn we couldnt actually find the turning bay. And, there was something we hadnt seen for a week. Bends! Yes, curvy bits of road. Just outrageous.

    The next morning was Cup Day and the last leg of our journey. Its raining. Apollo Bay is a beautiful little seaside town. Ironically the road from Perth to the 12 Apostles follows the coast quite closely, but actual ocean views are rare so we enjoy the change of scenery. The road is still windy and it hugs the waters edge.

    It says MELBOURNE

    We finally finish the coastal section and meet up with the freeway. Its still raining. Going to the Cup in a convertible probably sounded like a good idea at the time.
    The new place has views of the MCG. We start looking at satellite images of the rain. Its nasty. The first race is run and the comments from the jockeys were things like my goggles were full of water, my boots were full of water. Wildest ride ever. We start to debate if we will attend. It is a largely open air event. We also start to debate if they will postpone the race to later in the day.
    When you dont know what to do, go to the pub. So, its off to the James Squire Brew Pub for a few sharpeners. After 1 pint the skies start to clear. The radar looks promising. The train station at Flemington, however, has fallen victim to flash flooding so we get a cab out.
    On approach protesters have set up posters showing images of dead horses and remind everyone of the toll these animals pay by running for our entertainment. The track cant be in great nick after all the rain we had. Its a sobering thought. The enterance into Flemington is via a tunnel of white roses. Very elegant.

    Entering Flemington

     

    A quick selfie

     

    We discuss putting on a bet. I read out the names of the horses (but 2 of the names I read out I made up). Anson picked the two I made up. Sigh!We have no idea! So, we decide to back horses that have prime numbers. Anyhow…….
    The city in the background.
    Its on! Its a 3200m race so they go past us twice. Last time I went to the races I didnt realise that they did 2 laps. My horse was in the lead as they went past the post for the first time and I started celebrating my win. The the lads explained it to me…….
    Thundering down the straight for the actual finish.
    In the wash up of the Cup Cliffsofmoher was put down after suffering an injury in the race (sadly I think thats 6 horses that have died in the Cup in the last 6 years) not that the Melbourne Cup is the only race where these tradgies occur. Suspensions were handed out for offences like over whipping a horse and careless riding.

    And back to see Chloe before I call it a night. Ive got a 4am start tomorrow. Piggs Peake has club orders going out, so i better go pack some boxes.
  • Conclusion

    So, that was Perth to Melbourne.

     

    Its not actually 4283km. We did take a long route to check out Port Lincoln and the 12 Apostles and they were worth it. So, who won the battle of food, coffee, wine, beer. Italy or outback Australia? Coffee-milk based coffee to Australia. Espresso styles to Italy. Beer-Australia. Wine-Italy (I give this to Italy not on absolute quality of wine, but simply because of the range of wines constantly available. Theres wine in butcher shops, minimarts, convenience stores. Its everywhere!) Food- Australia. Tough call, but bizarrely I got over cooked pasta in Bologna, under cooked pasta in Venice. A quality steak in Kalgoorlie, brilliant seafood in Port Lincoln and in Adelaide. But, what tipped it to Australia was the sheer diversity of food available. You can travel the world in a food sense by driving around Australia. It just has so much to offer from a $5 Vietnamese Pork Roll through to the hatted restaurants.

    Anyhow, we are coming in to land at Newcastle Airport. Robbo is waiting to whisk me back to the Hunter Valley where preparations for the 2019 vintage are underway.

    See you soon. Cheers, Steve
  • A Day with Tony Ford, Then Off to Adelaide.

    Our plan today is to drive over to Coffin Bay, Boston Bay and Port lincoln. Our host is the great Tony Ford who runs Boston Bay Winery. Tony went out squiding yesterday and grabbed 7 of the tasty little devils. Cant wait to see him, catch up, try his wines and some local seafood.

    A lovely little brekky wrap. Bacon, spinach, egg, mayo and a well crafted coffee. Great cafe with an indoor garden area with antique furniture at Streaky Bay.
    And driving again. Once you get to Ceduna the landscape changes. Wheat and sheep become common sites.
    The road to Coffin Bay hugs the coastline and occasionally touches it. Theres a real mix of scenery on display
    Cummins Monument. A lobster catcher named Leo Cummins drowned here. Its a spectacular site.
    We turn off the main drag and end up at Coffin Bay. My all time favourite place for oysters. A little cafe there makes great coffee and has a focus on the local seafood and an outlook over the bay itself. Brilliant!

    This is Tony Ford. Tony is a bit of a legend in the wine industry for many reasons. He is also an abalone lease holder, brilliant chef, a bit of an entrepanuer and a frustrated stand up commedienne.
    Tony quickly knocks up some king prawns and a thai pork salad and opens a bottle of his Riesling. Fabulous!
    We go for a drive around Port Lincoln. Tuna boats are moored in town
    Theres another winery in town, so we go in for a bottle of wine and a bowl of tuna marinated in soy and topped with toasted nori. Lovely!

    At this point in the trip, things started to go wrong and fray at the edges. We had a room booked for tonight 3 hours down the road. Tony was referring to us as the 4 Amigos and saying emotionally we couldnt be seperated after all we’d been through (he’d met Anson and Crash 2 hours ago for the first time). Our problem was we had to have Crash in Adelaide by noon tomorrow to catch a flight to the Gold Coast, so we had to go. No problem, says Tony, opening another bottle of wine as he books a 45 min flight for Crash tomorrow morning from Port Lincoln to Adelaide. Guess we are staying!!!!
    Tony took us to a really cool 2 story bar made out of shipping containers. Great cocktails and shish kebabs were just being freely distributed
    At this point my phone went dead, so theres no photographic evidence of our night in Port Lincoln. It was a great night. We went from the bar (where we’d been introduced as whale hunters) to the brewery in town for a quick glass of Cage Diver Pale Ale then off to a private house for a bonfire party.

    The owner of the house was a Tuna fisherman and various friends from the seafood industry had bought then cooked what they farmed or caught all while three ladies made rissotto in the kitchen. Steamed mussels in a garlic sauce. Raw tuna soaked in beetroot. Tuna with kiwi fruit and strawberry. A long table was covered in wines for all to share. I sneaked a glass of 2002 Rockford Shiraz which was delightful. It was such a lovely evening of food, wine and conversation

    Amazingly, we did get Crash onto his 10am flight the next morning. Then started the drive north to Port Augusta then South down to Adelaide. Its about a 7 hour trip. Its quite frustrating because Adelaide isnt really that far away. The country has had wheat snd sheep since Ceduna, but now it gets a bit more intensive.

    As we drive theres often water pipes on the roadside providing water to towns. The one we followed to Kalgoorlie on the first leg of the trip was about 500km long and took 5 years to build about 120 years ago. The Hunter Valley has no water supply and its a massive tourism industry. They seem to solve these problems in SA and WA.
    Back on the road
    We finally make Adelaide and catch up with Andrew Press. Andrew is the guy who finds piggs peake grapes in SA. We go Japanese and launch into a carafe of Sake’, blue swimmer crab and some salmon.
    Then pork dumplings, kim chi dumplings and some deep fried mullet.

     

    Then flat beans and lamb belly cooked over fire. A bottle of Riesling by KT and some Japanese whisky completed the night.
  • Ceduna

    The first 70m of the fairway is carpark in appearance, but parking is discouraged

    Even out here theres still a focus on food and drink
    The Nullarbor Nymph was a fabricated story that made headlines. It involved a statuesque blonde who lived naked with the local kangaroos.
    Lush fairways are littered with the remains of clay pigeons. Provides plenty of extra run
    The club house has been fitted out with catering facilities for 100 and climate controlled dining areas
    Eucla is right down near the ocean. Its a bright sunny day but the breezes are straight off the south pole
    Back in the day this was the telegraph station
    I do love a good snake warning
    Little margin for error. Its like threading a needle
    The Border Roo. Hes in SA, so goodbye WA

    Just over the border we dip down to the edge off the bluff
    Im going to have to go back to my reference source (a childrens picture book on trucks my son used to get me to read him) and check road train lengths. According to the road signs around here about 50m seems to be the limit. Hmmmmm

    Ceduna is a lovely little town on the ocean with a long jetty. The pub and bistro look out over the jetty. Just gorgeous
    We stay the night at Streaky Bay and eat prawns, tender squid and King George Whiting at the bar. Hoges is our host (nah, not that Hoges) and he has a horse running on the weekend called Beauty (nah, not that Beauty) that we now intend to have a flutter on.
  • Across the Nullarbor

    Day 2: Today we drive the Nullarbor proper. We have given ourselves two days to get from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna. On the way we plan to play the worlds longest golf course. 18 holes stretch out over the length of the Nullarbor with holes positioned at various truck stops, points of interest etc. Sadly, we have no clubs. We ring around opp shops to try to find some cheap, look at Gumtree all to no avail. Finally, we buy a childs fairway wood and 7 iron from Sports Scene. Suitably armed, we prepare mentally for a day of long driving (and a suspect some wayward driving too).
     

    A statue in honor of the Kalgoorlie gold miners and some stats. $96 billion dollars worth of gold has been mined from the super pit. Its currently producing $1.2 billion worth of gold a year.

    Then, time for a round of golf!

    The greens here are red dirt mixed with what smells like sump oil
     

    The nullarbor golf course is a compilation course of about a dozen different sites. Silver Lake is hole 3 (if u start from the west) and is about 100km from hole 1 and 2 in Kalgoorlie.

     

    A close up of the fairway

     

     
     

    Next hole

    Anson’s drive landed right in the middle of the fairway giving him a perfect lie to play his approach to the green.

     

    Next hole
     

    Next hole

    The wild life was interested in the match unfolding between Anson and I.

    The last 3 greens have been astro turf. Tricky to get shots to stick on the putting surface
    We stopped at Norseman for a bite st the Full Moon cafe. Great coffee, fresh burgers and vibrant Thai food. For a remote outpost it was surprisingly busy. We turn here on to the Eyre highway. Its just a shade under 2000km to Adelaide from here.
     
    As we are driving towards Madura a thought dawns on us. Theres a 3 hour time difference between Sydney and Perth. So, somewhere out here there must be time zones. We ring ahead to where we are staying and sure enough its 45 minutes later there. Doh! Our ETA just went from 8pm to 845pm and that means the restaurant will be shut.
    Approacing Belladonia where a piece of Sky Lab landed back in the day. Not sure whats happened here since…..

    Next hole. Skylab. Skylab is a long par 3 with no actual fairway. It also has a snake warning!
    When Sky Lab came down the local ranger issued NASA with a littering fine.

    Walking down to the green
    Walking around looking for Ansons ball we caught this guy napping.

    A shield behind the green shows the scars of those who over clubbed
    This bit of highway doubles as an airstrip when required
    The otherside of Balladonia is pretty much the start of the Nullarbor. Things just got flat. The horizon is quite defined.
    At this point we are roughly halfway between Perth and Adelaide so its probably time to have a think about how driving the Nullabor compares to driving around Italy in a food and wine sense. Now that we are in the center of the Nullarbor luxuries are disappearing and prices are rising. Petrol is over $2 a litre. Coffee is over $6. This morning we passed on a $6.50 coffee out of a push button coffee machine (same sorta machine that was in our accomodation in Milano) and got a $6.50 coffee down the road 100km made on long life milk (something we experienced a lot in Italy). Hmmmm, I’d suggest in terms of coffee culture (and Im talking about milk based coffees here) that the Nullabor is ahead of Milan!
    We didnt plan our trip very well so the last hole for the day (Eagles Nest at Cocklebiddy) was played by car headlights
     
    Foodwise Italy has superior produce. The cheese, tomato, cold meats etc are fantastic. But, it repeats a lot. Kalgoorlie had duck buns, Norseman had Thai. Australia has a diversity in its food which I love, even in the outback. We are now heading towards a point where the road approaches the ocean then down towards (eventually) Port Lincoln. Im expecting some high quality seafood. The area around Venice was very seafood focused, but Im heading for Boston Bay (mussels), Coffin Bay (oysters), Port Lincoln (tuna) and the beautiful seafood of the Spencer Gulf. We will see…….
  • Day 2. Kalgoorlie

    OK, its time to go east now. We woke up in Como (not Lake Como, Como South Perth). A quick trip down to the Como bakery produced a cracker beef and mushroom pie. Some lovely apple pies. 10cm high lemon meringue pies and a pork roll. Ready to hit the road. Todays destination is Kalgoorlie. At the wheel of the Dualis is Qantas Captain Anson and in the back seat is Crash Kennedy. Short leg today, just 6 hours.

    Our friend for the next week
    Road trains from here on in. Can be up to 400m long
    In Italy it was fiat, fiat, fiat, fiat and fiat. Just trucks out here
    Hard to explain how big the sky is and how far away the horizon is

    And fuel??? Maybe?????
    So, as the sun started to go down we had a look at the super pit. I saw this on Top Gear once and they did a hill climb race up it. Its a big hole. If you zoom right in theres a truck that holds 400 ton in the bottom that looks like a Tonka Toy. Lots of gold came out of here back in the day

    There are a few famous pubs in Kalgoorlie one of which is Paddys. Its a big joint with a front bar and a large spacious restaurant. Crash wanted a Parmy and a Pot and the word on the street was they were the best in town.

     

    I grabbed a steak and noticed they had a good winelist. Brown Brothers makes a range of wines, the Patricia label being their highest level. I snapped it up fast. Great wine. The parmy came out and it was huge ( the main way the quality of a Parmy is defined is by its physical size) and the steak was high quality and perfectly cooked and the flavours in the Duck Steamed Buns were spot on. Great food and great wine.

    Then, off to The Exchange for a couple of snappy beers then a kebab. Now, all three of us on this trip have a background in growing up in the Wauchope/Port Macquarie area. Back in the 80’s and 90’s we were all regulars at a kebab shop up there called Lucky Kids. Lucky Kids has a legendary status amongst our circle of friends and is the bar against all other kebabs are measured. So, when the chicken kebab contained meat not cooked upright against a burner but was chicken on a stick cooked on a flat hot plate there were grumblings. But, that is a kebab of sorts. True. But, then an egg was cracked on to the hotplate and thats when the trouble started. Lucky Kids didnt have fried eggs in their kebabs. The outrage was palpable and you could have cut the air with a knife.
    Finally, three kebabs were presented to a skeptical audience. They were crumbly (Lucky Kid kebabs were rolled like a cuban cigar) and soon lettuce and chicken was all over the footpath. But, they were good. I called it at that point and went back to bed while Anson and Crash returned to the Exchange. When they woke me later in the night they said they had gone back for a second kebab. The ultimate compliment!
  • 1. So, it Begins!

    And so it begins. 8 days of planes, trains and automobiles. This morning Marc and I loaded the 2018 Hogshead Chardonnay, 2018 Bushpig and the 2018 Pigs Blood onto a tanker for bottling. Ironically, all three wines will be bottled on Halloween. Pigs Blood and Halloween. Spooky……. Anyhow, having successfully sent the wines off to be bottled it was time to hit the road. By chance I turned on the car and Dave Gleeson from the Screaming Jets was on the radio introducing ACDC Its A Long Way To The Top. So, I started my odyssey to the sound of Bon Scott screaming at me “its a long way. Such a long way.” Yep, hes right…….

     

    So, its a short flight from Williamtown to Melbourne. On take off the pilot screwed the arse off our plane in a manouvre more fitting of a Red Bull pilot. But, after the G Forces subsided we were rewarded with a low altitude trip down the Australian coastline on a perfect October afternoon. Newcastle port and the Hunter River. Sydney Harbour. You could not have done better if you chartered a plane to do it. Just magnificent!
    As luck would have it I am sharing a plane with another Hunter Valley Winemaker Andrew Thomas. Andrew recently opened a Cellar Door just down the road from piggs under his label Thomas Wines. The label is not new, Andrew has been knocking out cracking wines for about 20 years but the Cellar Door is recent. Pop in for a look next time you come to see us.
    Sadly, this trip to Melbourne is just the four hours at the airport before I fly to Perth. Such a pity. I love Melbourne. Anyhow, back soon.
    First food adventure on my trip.