Archive for February, 2009

Back on the blog – CHEERS!


OK, so I realise Gosstronomy has been all quiet on the gestation front this past year. And I know, I owe everyone an explanation. A blogger can’t just disappear into the ethernet and go without saying a word. I have seen the folly of my ways, and I am back asking for forgiveness.

Right, ready? The sad truth is this – I got a real job.

“No!” you say. “Mon dieu.” “Bastarde.” “Oy gevalt.” Well, my parents said “About time” as I set about helping Lonely Planet transform its famed travel guidebooks and figure out ways to allow people to access the same great information on their mobile phones. Yes, I was a high-priced geek who shrunk guidebooks, but I missed my freedom, I missed writing about food, and I missed people like you reading about it. Yes, dammit, YOU were missed.

So after 14 well-paid months, I chucked it all in and went back to food writing. In the middle of the global financial crisis. And I couldn’t be happier.

Yesterday was my first day of freedom, and it was a whole couple of hours before I got a whiff of a Spanish and Portuguese wine tasting by the Spanish Acquisition, Australia’s top distributor of Iberian drops. The tip-off was thanks for Ryan Andrijich, the former food expert on the Australian version of ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’, who’s  now doing catering and cooking classes in Melbourne. Thanks Ryan, I owe you one.

So on my first afternoon back, I was at North Fitzroy bowls, sampling from a massive variety of sherry, whites, roses, Cavas and reds. Sausages and lamb cutlets were sizzling on the barbie as small village of sommeliers, bottle shop (liquor store) operators and chefs sampled from the extensive line-up. The Spanish Acquisition crew started us off with a chilled glass of Delgado Zuleto ‘La Goya” Manzanilla sherry, which got the palate going before we net dipped into the classic Spanish sparkling: Cava. Amid a sampling of white and rose sparklings, I was particularly drawn to the 2005 Agusti Torello Mata Brut Reserve, a fruity, yeasty and lively bubbly.

Then it was onto the whites, which were in their element on this hot summer’s day. One of my favourite whites in Albarino, and there was a good selection at hand, but I found myself struggling to find a stunner among the 2006 and 2007 vintages. Instead, I was drawn to a grape I had never heard of, godello. The only way to describe it is as a Spanish alternative to sauvignon blanc, but far more interesting. The 2007 Telmo Rodriguez ‘Gabo do Xil’ , a hand-picked godello from Spain’s Valdeorras region, was fruity, citrusy and had hints of honeydew, and is a great example of an easy-to-quoff wine that still has personality. It’ll ruin that next glass of same-o Marlborough sav blanc forever. On the more seriuos wine front, it was hard to go past the 2006 Remelluri Blanco, a white blend from monastrell, tempranillo and syrah that had subtle oak on the nose with lemon/lime notes, lots of minerality and a tinge of pepperiness on the back palate – and from reading the tasting notes, lots of other things I couldn’t pick up, like pickles. Save this one for your wankiest wine friends; they’ll love it.

I took a time out after downing all of those Cavas and whites in the heat, gorging on the juicy lamb to soak up the alcohol. And since I was having so much fun, time flew (as it does), so I found myself doing a speed tasting session before the Spanish Acquisition folks shut down the free-for-all. What I found were two killer tempranillos among the mix, stating with a 2006 Artadi ‘Vinas de Gain’ that to borrow the words of Mitchell Mcloud (because he said it better) – the owner of Northcote’s new Harvest Wine & Liquor boutique bottlo – was a brilliant mix of morello cherris and cola beans, confected but not sweet. Whatever, it was drinking beautifully. And while Mitchell found the 2002 Traslanzas as good but a bit light-on, I found it to be a beautiful red, with the kind of subtlety I’d be happy to find in more tempranillos. Top stuff.

But just as we thought the fun was over, there was one more highlight in store for us – an impromptu performance from the comedic duo Elbowskin, Enrie and Dave, the stars of “Are We Stupid” in the upcoming Melbourne Comedy Festival. The two sang a quirky, acoutic-guitar pisstake on the humble vine, which started off with “We were gonna write a song for the sommeliers, but it was all wine, wine, wine” and then headed straight to the gutter from there. All I can remember is the use of wine varietals to describe a man who meets a woman, only to discover she’s infected with phylloxera. It was a good laugh, so the Elbowskin boys promised that they’ll send over a link to a video they produced of the song, which I’ll happily share as soon as I get it. “This is only the second time we’ve had a chance to sing it,” said Ernie – guess it’s not every day you get knowing chuckles from wineheads. For now, check out their request to move their MySpace users to Facebook. It’s not G-rated, so if the kids are around, maybe use the headset.