Monday, 30 June 2014

Paleo Cafe, Hyde Park

Who has had a chance to check out a game of AFL at Adelaide Oval yet? Were you as awestruck as I was?

Initially, I was part of the sceptics - we have a good venue in Aami Stadium, why move elsewhere? All that is changed now - top reason is of course, how much closer it is to home - we can leave a full hour later than we used to and get there with time to spare! Plus there are SO much more dining options in the city and on the way. 

Which is how we ended up at the Paleo Cafe in Hyde Park one Sunday morning at peak Brunch time. It was insanely busy, but the service was still impeccable; we got seated and served quickly and had our food in no time at all - meaning we could eat quickly and head off to the city.

Everything on the menu is GF, so it wasn't a question of what we could have, but what we would have. Mum and I ended up getting the same item; Banana Coconut Pancakes with Lemon Curd, Berries and whipped cream. In the pancakes, the bananas replaced the flour, so they were quite dense, but with the smooth texture and flavour of the curd, it wasn't a bad thing. Considering we didn't have breakfast or lunch, it was good that these were filling.

Dad, however, went for the Full Breakfast with Egg, Bacon, Spinach and a Potato Rosti. I got to steal a bit of his Rosti and it was so good! It nice and crispy on the outside and so light and fluffy on the inside. Next time we go back, I'm definitely getting this - just for the Rosti ;)

What good eateries have you found are good for pre-AFL games?

Winery Hopping - The Elbow Room

When we headed down to McLaren Vale for a Girls Day Out, I was pretty insistent we visit The Elbow Room for Lunch. The Head Chef and owner down there is Nigel Rich - formally of d'Arry's Verandah and other fantastic establishments around SA and overseas. Nigel's food philosophy is a good one and something that all South Australians should aspire to - fresh, local products, shown off to their natural perfection. I first came across Nigel's cooking when I met him at a last year's Cheesefest and then dined at the Elbow Room for Dad's birthday back in January.

As it turns out, our Girls Day Out couldn't have come at a better time, since a few weeks before we went, the team down at the Elbow Room had made the change from their Summer to their Autumn menu and it got me pretty excited to head back :) 

To start off with, the girls got a loaf of ER bread with Diana Kalamata olives and Olive oil. They raved about it and it looked pretty damn good, but I was content with having no bread and saving myself for Mains/Dessert. 

Restaurant Manager Ben, however, had a different idea and bought out these little tasters to "excite our palates" and they did exactly that! These are Snapper Sashimi with Goats Curd and Squid Ink Crackers. Traditionally, I am not a fish and seafood fan and the thought of Sashimi usually scares me (just thinking of what could go wrong makes me shudder)! But I figured if the girls we game, then why not step out of my comfort zone…and I found myself pleasantly surprised when I liked it! 

For my main, it was a no brainer. I went for the Wood Smoked Lamb Brik with KI Dirt(y) Lentils, Labne and Smoked Eggplant. We very rarely have Lamb at home because I just don't really enjoy cooking it so it's a definite indulgence when we go out. Plus, I was pretty keen to try the Lentils from Simon Bryant's company, Dirt(y), which did not disappoint! 

Kyla, however, decided to go with the Grass-Fed Black Angus Fillet with Truffled Butter and Smoked Proscuitto. She absolutely raved over it and said that it was cooked exactly how she had asked for it - Medium-Rare. And it showed how much she enjoyed it when she threatened to lick the plate clean ;)

And then dessert….I chose the Bitter Chocolate Parfait Sandwich with Candied Orange, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Persian Fairy Floss. This dish doesn't usually have the Fairy Floss on it, but because I couldn't have the chocolate biscuits to "sandwich" the Parfait, they put the floss on :) This was so rich and decadent and I was the perfect serving size - any bigger and it would've been too sickly. And I also came pretty closet to licking the plate so I didn't leave any of the Caramel behind ;)

The girls, however, had this for dessert. This is the Knickerboker Glory. The Knickerboker Glory is another indulgent dessert and has many different components to it. It has creaminess from the Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramelised Yoghurt, crunchiness from the Honeycomb, a nice tart flavour from the Rhubarb, a wonderful refreshment from the Mandarin Sorbet, the always needed hit of Chocolate from the brownie and, like all good food items, topped off with some Chocolate Persian Fairy Floss. The girls just devoured these and could not stop raving about them - for the two of them, it was the highlight of the meal.

For me, the highlight of the meal was the wine. Whilst there, we found out that not only is Nigel a top chef, he also enjoys trying his hand at winemaking. Partnering up with the guys over at Sellicks Hill Winery in 2010, Nigel produced a Grenache Shiraz, which is now being poured by the glass at the restaurant. This is a gorgeous, light red that made me consider begging them to let me buy a couple of bottles in addition to what we had with lunch and went quite well with everything we ate. 

In short, if you're ever heading to McLaren Vale at a meal time, make this place your number one stop. From the food, to the staff, to the view, everything is just superb and well worth the money and the time to drive down there. 

The Elbow Room
Cnr of Stumphill Rd and Main Rd,
McLaren Vale SA 5171

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Winery Hopping - McLaren Vale

After almost 3 months of planning and swapping work, my sister Georgia, our friend Kyla and myself finally settled on a day that would suit all to go winery hopping/lunch down at McLaren Vale, South Australia. 

We didn't have many expectations for the day - we just wanted to eat some good food, taste some good wine and have a relaxing day. 

We knew we wanted to go to The Elbow Room for lunch and from there planned our day around there.  

I'd heard wonderful things about Coriole Vineyards and the views from the top of their hill. I also knew of their olives and oils from working in a supermarket for a good number of years and was quite interested in tasting their wines.

Their reds were just divine! Their Dancing Fig was a fantastic example of Big, Bold flavours that McLaren Vale reds boast. I also really enjoyed their Sangiovese - it was a light red, one that would be able to be easily drunk on it's own, compared to the DF that I think would be better with a good hearty meal. 

We happened to get extremely lucky with the day we picked as well. The previous week or so and been cold, miserable and rainy and then the day we headed off, it was blue skies and sunshine! So we took some obligatory pictures on the lawn. Below is my sister Georgia and I…..I swear we didn't deliberately colour co-ordinate ;) 

After spending a good couple of hours at lunch, we were back on the road again. But not before popping next door to Shingleback wines. We had heard they did a "Chocolate Wine" and decided to try it as it combined two great loves - chocolate and wine! It was a lovely drop and would be good as a dessert red. 

Next stop was Hither & Yon, located a Willunga. Kyla was the main one tasting there, as I was holding out for our next stop. However, she recommends heading there for a different take on some old classics.  If we'd had more time, I would've loved to spend some more time wandering around Willunga, but we spent a tad too long at lunch to be able to do that.

Our last winery stop was Wirra Wirra and the one I was most eagerly anticipating. I have been a fan of their blend, Churchblock for a good number of years now and if I see it on a menu, it was always be chosen over everything else. Yes, that is a giant Churchblock bottle made of corks located in the carpark below ;) Going into the tasting there, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try some of their other wines. Walking into the tasting room was like walking into someone's living room, with the added extra of that person having a long bar! The fire was lit and the staff were very welcoming as we stepped in. 

I started off with their Mrs Wrigley Moscato, which was a lovely and light red moscato - very easy to drink; could see myself easily drinking an entire bottle in a sitting at some stage! On that day, they were also tasting one of their additions to the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth program; the Tempranillo, which was just a gorgeous wine. But my favourite that I tasted was their Rare Tawny. I love myself a good Port and theirs was incredibly smooth was what I ended up purchasing from them, with the promise to myself to head back soon and get more others. 

Our last stop before heading home was the Robern Menz outlet shop. The girls were pretty keen to stop there to stop on chocolates and other wonderful treats ;) 

A huge thank you must go to all of the people we encountered over our day out - you made it as wonderful as it was :) 

Tasting Australia 2014 - Thursday Night Dinner

On the night that Mum and I partook in our Gin blending Share Session, we decided to stick around Town Square and see what it had to offer in the way of dinner.

By the time it got to Thursday, all of the regional tents were open, so we had plenty of choices - it just came down to what could cater for us. A lot of them had a selection of local wineries sampling some of their more popular wines and then one or two fresh food choices. 

My first choice would have been a burger from the Brassiere Stand from the Hilton and the mussels from the Eyre Peninsula. Unfortunately for me, the Burger wasn't Gluten Free and I chickened out on the mussels as I had never tried them and was scared to try -_- I'm terrible with trying new things...

For Dinner and dessert we went to the Barossa, Be Consumed Tent to the Cafe Y area. For dinner, Mum decided to go for the Goat Curry, whilst I went for Wood Fried Barossa Pork Belly with a Garlic Mash, Shiraz Grenache Mouvedre Glaze and Caramelised Quince topped with Snow Pea Sprouts. The Pork was just amazing - it fell apart and made me want to go back for a second serving, had I not already decided what I wanted off of the dessert menu...

The Apple, Quince and Rhubarb Crumble with thick Jersey Cream was just what I needed after an evening of Gin tasting and the Pork and Goat dinners. Mum and I decided to share, which was a good choice in the end as del probably wouldn't have been able to finish one each! The crumble was just fantastic, and the best part was that it didn't taste Gluten Free - two big thumbs up from us! 

All in all, it was a fantastic night out, which made me regret not being able to get in there for more events. Come 2016 for the next event, you won't be able to get me away! And after the huge success of this years event, after 2016 it will be an annual event :) 

Thanks must go to Jon and Sarah Lark and the team from KISpirits - next time I'm on KI, visiting you will be at the top of my to-do list!