Thursday, 7 June 2007

Of Pies and Parmas

Unexpected visit to Australia
2nd to 6th July 2007

I landed back in Hong Kong late last night and after busy day at work finally had a little time to reflect on my unexpected visit home. It was undoubtedly a very intense few days; but I enjoyed some memorable meals and nice wines.

Roast Beef at Mum's (sorry no website): What can you say; returning home to a roast around the family table. In Hong Kong ovens are not a common, so a roast with all the trimmings is a truly fantastic experience, especially those gorgeous crispy roast potatoes ...

Chicken Parma at 'The Dog' (website): I'll admit I was scarred, too scarred to face a parma at 'The Dog'. The Skinny Dog Hotel in Kew was a popular venue from my youth (perhaps even slightly before it legally should have been) and since I've left Melbourne its gone through a stream of face lifts, refits and owners. 'The Dog' now focuses on quality pub dinning and is famous for it's massive 'chicken parmas'. Though of Italian name and origin, the chicken Parmigiana has become an icon of Australian pub food. 'The Dog' didn't disappoint those brave souls who ordered the huge plate size crumbed chicken schnitzels smothered in rich tomato sauce and melted cheese, accompanied by chips and salad. In fear I selected a steak, but got my fair share of parma from those soft lads who weren't up to the task of finishing their dinner.

Sausage in bread and a couple of Coopers 'Green'; Matty O's new house (Coopers website): A brief visit to a mate's new house confirmed beyond all doubt I was in Australia. He had no plumbing, heating, furniture or running water, but what he did have was a working fridge packed full of cold beer and the BBQ firing on the back veranda. Good mates, a couple of bottles of Coopers 'Green', a sausage in bread and I was in paradise!

Everything; Fiorelli Camberwell (website): This stylish restaurant is a long time family favourite. Its excellent food is well cooked and presented, but without the airs, graces or excessive fluff we often see in Hong Kong; the calamari is a must. Fiorelli service is slick and professional, the winelist good and the personable owner Steve is always around for a friendly chat. A lovely evening.

Coffee and a Pie with sauce, local bakery: Australian bakeries are homely places; casual, warm, bursting with good smells and tasty goodies. I love their relaxed atmosphere so the local bakery was a perfect place to catch up with mates over coffee; of course accompanied by a sly pie.

Compared to Hong Kong the wine lists at the restaurants and pubs I visited seemed much better value. I sipped from a few bottles and here are my favourites, the notes are not too good as 'I sipped from a few bottles' ...

Tamar Ridge, Tasmania, Pinot Noir 2004 (website): An easy drinking, stylish Pinot. It was awash with fantastic fruit; lots of cherries, if I remember correctly, and perhaps a slight sweet and sour note. What I liked about this wine was how user friendly it was; everyone was munching on something different, yet this complemented the lot.

Mt Langi Ghiran, Grampians, 'Cliff Edge' Shiraz 2003 (website): A big Western Victorian Shiraz; rich and ripe, with all the big dark berries, pepper and spice you expect. The palate was full, though there did seem to be a little alcohol warmth. A nice wine and a great contrast to the Tamar Ridge Pinot we drunk before it.

Sheralimine, Heathcote, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (website): We polished off a few bottles of this at 'The Dog'. I really enjoyed this intense and powerful wine, the obvious Cabernet characteristics were all there; lots of berries, with hints of green pepper and chocolate, accompanied by firm tannins. A cracker of a Cabernet from an area more renowned for its Shiraz.

Snobb's Creek, Upper Goulburn, 'Reserve' Shiraz 2004 (website): Snobb's Creek is a small producer based near Eildon in Victoria and perhaps something of a sentimental favourite. I use to live down the road from the winery and 'occasionally' fished the Goulburn River near their back door. I really enjoyed the wine, it was restrained and elegant and all up a very pleasant experience.


Edward said...

Don't think I could live without the occassional home cooked roast!
Sounds like the visit home was just what you needed ;-)

Andrew said...

Tasting a bit of mum's cooking, I realised how much I'd been missing a home cooked roast - as good as roast Chinese pork belly is, sometimes you just need the spuds and other roasted vegies to complete the package.
Apart from roasts there's the whole array of cakes, biscuits and scones that my girlfriend consistently mentions she misses. It’s amazing how much my cooking habits have changed with only having two gas burners in the kitchen. I think we need to buy a portable baking oven when we return from our summer holiday!