Expanding my palate [tech & social]

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While my love and passion for food and wine has never wained, in the last few years my passion for other interests has continued to grow. Currently I work in Online Communications, allowing me to work closely with two of my other passions: social media and technology.

Social media and technology are changing the food, wine, tech and marketing landscape faster than most can keep up with. So I’ll be getting back in the saddle to give thoughts about food, wine, tech and social media whenever possible. I’ve truly missed blogging, so can’t wait to get cracking.

If you’ve got any topics or questions on food, wine, tech or social media feel free to comment below or send me a tweet @benmoroney.

Time to stay hungry, stay foolish and share the love

Favourite Cellar Doors, Restaurants, Wine Events, Wine Reviews

(First off, apologies to all the haters for the Steve Jobs/Apple references littering this blog post. But he was an inspiration to me, anyone with that much passion has to be respected for relentlessly pursuing his dreams.)

Now, I’ll admit it. I’ve been terrible at blogging for way too long. I love blogging, love writing about wine, food, restaurants, wineries, cellar doors and living the good life. I love working in the wine industry and working with some of the most brilliant, passionate and talented people I’ve met anywhere. But since November last year, I’ve been focused on pursuing my dreams. Now, I’ve got my dream job (stage one), I’ve helped launch some amazing websites, I’m moving into Potts Point in Sydney (something I’ve wanted to do since age 12) and I’m full of energy to give back the love to the people, places, food, wines and ideas that I respect and have to share with the world.

Thanks to my friends, family, workmates and all those on Twitter and Facebook whose support, friendship and inspiration has given me strength in pursuing my dreams. And I’d especially like to thank those who’ve shown me how not to live my life. Pettiness, negativity and holding grudges won’t get you anywhere. Defining what you are really passionate about and relentlessly pursuing it no matter what others say will always bring positive and lasting change. I look forward to sharing the journey with you all.

Pho Nam: No frills Vietnamese in Kensington

Restaurants

Pho Nam dumplings

Apologies in advance for typos, spelling errors, brevity and the like with this post. Tapping out this post on an iPhone while flying from Adelaide to Sydney might not be ideal but hey, you’ve got to use every available moment! Just a quick post about a little suburban restaurant that I’ve been visiting a lot recently. It’s called Pho Nam and it’s on Kensington Road, just a couple of doors down from the iconic Chelsea cinema. Pho Nam is run by the original owner of Pho Shack in Chinatown. I’m a huge fan of Vietnamese food. It’s fresh and vibrant, with great flavors, textures and restorative properties.

Pho Nam is housed ever so simply in an old shopfront. Crummy decor, many tables without condiments and a noisy tiled floor don’t make for the best first impressions but stay with it. Pho Nam is all about the food. And really, which restaurants aren’t all about the food? Hog’s Breath, Hooter’s and the like aren’t but that’s really my point.

And the food at Pho Nam is good. Entrees like Pork Belly Salad combine the delicious fatty goodness of Pork Belly with the fresh, crisp and clean flavours of a top quality Vietnamese noodle salad. The Pho itself is damn good, great depth of flavour and a great introduction to one of the worlds great dishes for those who haven’t yet succumbed to the powers of Pho.

Other dishes include Ginger Poached Guinea Fowl (amazing) and a Duck dish that blows the vast majority of the renditions passed off by lesser suburban restaurants. The wine list is minimal but solid. Corkage is $5. Most dishes on the menu are well under $20. Awesome. Get on it before word gets out and it gets busier than The Funky Drummer.

Highlights of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region Tasting :: Part One

Wine Reviews

INTRODUCTION

The view of the mighty Torrens as I wander to the tasting dodging Swans

The view of the mighty Torrens as I wander to the tasting dodging Swans

On a cold and wintery night in Adelaide in late August, I braved the weather to head to the Hyatt Regency Ballroom for the Adelaide Hills Regional Tasting. After dodging a couple of light showers and parking my car for the night, I met friend and fellow wine lover Richie in the Hyatt foyer.

A NERVOUS START, A RANT AND SOME HIDEOUS DECOR

Machinery that is slightly less dated than the decor at the Hyatt Regency

Machinery that is slightly less dated than the decor at the Hyatt Regency

As always with these kind of events I was a bit nervous. Nervous you may ask? Well, these events can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes life-affirming and joyful occasions with great wines, food and personalities to discover and engage with… Sometimes boring (wines available everywhere), repetitive (sales reps not winemakers/viticulturists/owners extolling the virtues of whatever will help them reach the month’s sales target), soulless (poor venue/no food/excess numbers of depressed looking wine wankers) and depressing (oh, you’ve run out of your only decent wine 10 minutes into the event? Didn’t expect that to happen did you?)…

Upon arriving at the sales desk the signs weren’t good. $20 entry fee, no problem at all… Ah, they have Riedel tasting glasses, very nice… But no, the Riedel glasses were only for members of the trade and established wine industry folk. Oh well, at least it reminded me of my place within the wine industry (ie. no place just yet, but you wait, just you wait!)

I found that the smaller XL5 glasses were better suited to the white wines (at least 60% of the total) on tasting… They are also better suited to anyone getting slightly intoxicated as it’s much harder to spill wine out of an XL5!

But I digress. Upon entry to the Ballroom the first thing you notice is the decor. Luckily for the Hyatt accountants the 80s are back in fashion. It’s bought them at least two more years before they have to renovate this room. But the venue was laid out well, with plenty of room to move and a good mix of food and wine stands. I really loved the way they had a food stand after every four or five wine stands. This allowed for a well needed respite from the frantic tasting pace and a great chance to grab a bite while discussing the highlights and lowlights of the previous producers. So kudos to the organisers of this events and a heads up to those who organise similar ones.

ABOUT BLOODY TIME YOU GOT TO THE WINE TASTING PART

The world renowned Cascade of Sauvignon Blanc flowing from the Adelaide Hills

The world renowned Cascade of Sauvignon Blanc flowing from the Adelaide Hills

Now onto the tasting, with 30 or so stands to visit, time is of the essence. Whites were first and the quality was a mixed bag. While the Adelaide Hills have built their reputation on whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, there were some disappointments. There were many Pinot Gris/Grigio on offer but only one really shone.

2008 Henschke Littlehampton Innes Vineyard Pinot Gris

Price :: $25-30

Cellar Potential :: Great Drinking Now but will develop over 5 years

Score :: 92

Music Match :: Best thing to come out of Littlehampton since the bricks and pavers, put on Lionel Ritchie’s funkiest moment with the Commodores, “Brick House” to make this wine come alive.

Summary :: One of the few good examples of this wine and style in this country. Extended time and stirring on lees has given this wine a whole lot of character and a whole lot of class. Tropical fruits and honey on the nose, luscious white peach and honeydew melon on the palate with great mouthfeel and lingering finish.

Moving right along now to the variety everyone loves to hate, Chardonnay. Up until about six months ago I despised Chardonnay more than the English Cricket Team, Manchester United and Collingwood. Now after a solid effort to seek out some quality examples, i’m falling in love. And as the Adelaide Hills have some of the countries finest examples, I found some crackingly good wines.

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO (tentatively titled  SOME CHARDY, A TROLLI and SOME SHUCKING GOOD SEAFOOD)

Updated: Funky Adelaide wine events in September

Wine Events

Fresh French Oak ready to be filled

September, what a wonderful time to be in Adelaide. Apart from my 30th Birthday there are so many great wine events to attend, I thought it would be an opportune time to compile a few of the more affordable, can’t miss events. If I miss anything, please let me know the details and i’ll update ASAP!

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Autumn Vines

TASTE of SOUTH AUSTRALIA at the Royal Adelaide Show

Cellar Door Experience

Date: 4th-12th September             Time: 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4.30pm, 5.30pm & 6.30pm
Location: Royal Adelaide Showgrounds, Wayville
Venue:
Taste of South Australia IGA Pavillion
Cost: Free with Show Entry (Adults $19, Concession $15)

The Cellar Door Wine Experience will provide you with exposure to a range of great South Australian wines. There will be six free educational wine sessions each day lasting 20 minutes.  Wine enthusiasts can taste and compare four wines while a short presentation is made by a ‘wine educator’.  Approximately 40 people can be accommodated per session.  The open plan allows passing visitors to access the information.  Sessions include wines from many regions. Some of the wineries included in the tasting last year included Petaluma, Peter Lehmann, Jim Barry and many more top producers.

Presented in conjunction with the South Australian Wine Industry Association, the Cellar Door Wine Experience provides a hands-on, educational experience for wine lovers at any level of wine knowledge.

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Barossa Small Winemakers Tasting

Barossa Small Winemakers Annual Tasting

Date: Saturday 5th September              Time: 10AM – 5PM
Location: Chateau Tanunda, 9 Basedow Road Tanunda
Venue:
Grand Ballroom
Cost: $ 10 per person includes souvenir etched tasting glass
Having been a regular visitor to the Barossa Small Winemakers Centre I can tell you that this will be a fantastic event.

The Barossa Small Winemakers Annual Tasting is a showcase for wines of the Barossa’s small independent winemakers. Wines here give visitors to the Chateau access to wines that are rarely found elsewhere.

The centre is housed in the cellar door sales area at historic Chateau Tanunda, just a few minutes walk from Tanunda, in the heart of the Barossa Valley – one of the World’s premier wine regions.

The Small Winemakers Annual Tasting features over 90 wines made by over 30 small producers in the valley. These are mostly handmade wines, produced in very small quantities. They come from growers with small parcels of some of the finest fruit in the Barossa. These people are the heart and soul of the Barossa, and are producing wines that are difficult, if not impossible to find. Many of these wines are made by fifth generation vignerons or master winemakers, employed elsewhere, who produce their own vintage.

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The Fermentters during vintage

The Fermentters during vintage

FRIDAY LUNCHES AT THE WINE UNDERGROUND

Date: Friday 11th of September and Friday the 18th of September              Time: Lunch
Location: 121 Pirie Street, Adelaide
Venue: The Wine Underground
Cost: $65 per person, all inclusive. Phone 82321222 ASAP to book.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, one of Adelaide’s top restaurants (Top 100 in Australia 2010 Gourmet Traveler Restaurant Awards) The Wine Underground unleashes a couple of brilliant Friday Lunches.

On Friday the 11th one of the Barossa’s leading lights, Two Hands, provides the wines. If you haven’t tried these guys wines then do yourself a favour and grab a bottle of 2007 Gnarly Dudes Barossa Shiraz and sink your teeth into some textbook Barossa goodness. Their range includes great Shiraz from Australia’s top regions as well as some interesting whites. Should be a good one.

On Friday the 19th of September two of Australia’s top Pinot/Chardonnay producers provide the wines for a lunch that could be a classic. Marchand & Burch from Great Southern in WA team up with Kooyong from the Mornington Peninsula. Awesome. If you love Pinot and you love Chardonnay then this event, at $65 per person, is about as unmissable as wine lunches get… Bring it on!

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Vale Cru Wine Tasting

MclarenValeTastingDayInvite

For more detailed information on this event go to :: http://mclarenvale.ning.com/events/vale-cru-high-quality-small

Date: Sunday 20th September 2009              Time: 2.00 to 5.00 pm
Location: The Victory Hotel, Sellicks Beach
Venue: Outdoors on the grass at the Victory Hotel
Cost: $ 40 per person, includes free wine glass and $20 off per dozen on the day.

“Come along for an afternoon discovering McLaren Vales ultra premium wines, and meeting McLaren Vales small batch winemakers.

Outdoors on the grass at The Victory hotel, overlooking the vines of McLaren Vale and Sellicks beach. The wines will be poured by the winemakers. Phillip White and Drew Noon will discuss the importance of the land in winemaking.”

Cost: $40 per person (includes a free wine glass and $20 off per dozen purchased on the day).

This information was taken from the Vale Cru website, looking forward to some exciting happenings from these guys in the future…

Well that’s it for now… Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you know of more exciting events coming in August and September!