Friday, March 8, 2013

Shiraz-Syrah, same same

In most foreign countries the language is subject to interpretation. Over in Australia a few words have no connection to the American "English" language. Similarities yes, but one wonders how a sweater became a "jumper" or diapers became "nappies" and tomato sauce is ketchup. Now French fries called "hot chips" I can almost see. I guess "chips" are cold.  Syrah, the French and American name for this grape varietal became Shiraz. Wine aficionados would argue that Shiraz, a Persian grape, came first and was interpreted as Syrah when the grape was cultivated in France. The Australians prefer Shiraz.
I did not have a bad wine in Australia. Some were more noteworthy than others but I loved them all. Mindi and I have a history together. She hired me at Peachy Canyon winery where I worked for almost 9 years.  In the meantime she fell in love with the Australian "cellar rat" who came to work a harvest.  My late husband, Steve, used to say that Aaron stole our Crown Jewel when he spirited her off to Australia.
Once in Australia she managed to get a great job with a wine distributor so continued her passion for the fermented grape.
I followed her recommendations when purchasing Aussie wines during my visit. Boy did we drink some delicious wines!

On a sunny, cool Sunday I woke up anticipating a drive out to the closest and oldest wine region in Australia, Hunter Valley. To back up, I woke up to incredible smells wafting out of the kitchen.  Mindi was busy making an Indian Coconut Lamb Curry for our dinner later. Fresh curry leaves, Ghee, curry powder  and other ingredients were laid out, lamb was sauteing and my camera was hidden away in my purse. It WAS only 7 am!
I put together a fruit platter with Australian Greek Yogurt, which by the way tastes closer to Creme Fraiche and is scary good, along with  local grainy bread toasted for our breakfast.

Packing up 2 toddlers is a chore. The bottles need to be sterilized and filled, biscuits (crackers) and vege snacks baggied, the aforementioned (in the previous blog) baby food in squeeze tubes and of course "nappies"are packed in  Mindi's "diaper" bag, a designer mini suitcase. She can pack an unbelievable amount of stuff into it and it is gorgeous to boot. Harrison finally puts his little green Crocs on, baby Alexander is settled into the car seat, toys are distributed and off we go.

Hunter Valley vintners primarily grow Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A few wineries had Pinot Noir. Chardonnay-Semillon blends were common and very good. The area is beauty and not packed with vineyards like California but you still feel that you are in a grape growing region.  Our first stop was at Hungerford Hill. Their Semillon was delicious but I bought the spicy Cabernet Sauvignon. I noticed that the Cabernets took on nuances of what I associate with Shiraz-Syrah. Amanda, the woman who poured wine tastes for us was wonderful and sent us to a few of her favorite places.  Aaron was wonderful too as he entertained the boys.
Scarborough Vineyard

Overlooking Hunter Valley

Our next stop was for lunch at a popular cafe, Enzo's. It is located near David Hook Wines tasting room, actually on the same property.  All was good except the, up to now, cool weather suddenly turned to sunny and hot. We were seated on the patio which turned into a sauna.  Our food arrived and for the most part was lovely.  We started out with Ciabatta and three little dipping sauces. Aaron had Linguine with huge prawns,lemons and tomatoes. I ordered a simple Smoked Salmon salad with fennel and orange ( simple it was), and Mindi had an unsuccessful version of Duck and Asparagus Pate. It was two huge slabs, grilled, with a little sauteed red cabbage and a sort of jam plopped on top, no bread or pickles. Certainly not appetizing for a hot day.

 Meanwhile the boys were starting to fuss and Mindi was having a heat attack. She dressed for cooler weather and I could see how uncomfortable she was.  We asked the waitress to box up the Pasta. She informed us that it is against the law to box up any food with seafood as an ingredient. So there!  We abandoned the rest of  our plates (except mine as it was small ) and evacuated the cafe heading for the cool cellars of David Hook. Mindi bought two of their fine wines. We made one more memorable stop at Scarborough Winery where we were seated at a large table with plates of cheeses and "biscuits" and very good mostly white wines. It was a large open space and Harrison could run around and charm everyone.
Scarborough Winery
Harrison w. Mommy's necklace- the green Crocs were gone

We had to do some "kid time" for the boys so we set off to see the "Largest Kangaroo Lolly".
There is a trend in Australia to display "Large or Largest" statues of animals, sea creatures and who knows what else along the roadside to attract visitors.  They are called "Big..." as in Big Prawn, Big Lobster or in this case Big Lolly Hop. Lolly Hop was located in a candy-ice cream-tourist trinkets store.  Outside was a seaplane that allowed visitors to climb into the cockpit. Mils of picture opportunities.  The main attraction was inside. A huge Kangaroo made entirely of jelly beans! Of course no one was allowed to touch it, but again photo opts.
Lolly Hop was at least 6 ft tall

We all had ice cream, Aaron and Harrison climbed into the plane, then we piled back into the car for the drive home.

It was a pretty long day for the little ones and after crying and crying they fell asleep. On the way home I saw my first real Kangaroos. Usually they are nocturnal but there they were munching and hopping on a golf course.

Back home the Indian Curry with a Hunter Valley wine was our dinner after putting babes to bed.  Yummmm.
Here is the link to the recipe Mindi uses for the Coconut Lamb Curry

1 comment:

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