Tag Archives: Pinot

…but the company was fabulous


G’day Tony.

Have you ever been to a restaurant which you’ve been looking forward to, a stunning building, surreal view, a modern setting (read: a little stark and uncomfortable) but then walked away at the end of the night thankful for your dining companion?


My lovely wife and I just spent the weekend on the Mornington Peninsula, courtesy of Royce & Jan. Yes, it was Christmas present from last year…the effect of simply having way too much happening. A cosy self-contained cottage, only a short hop to some interesting wineries and restaurants.

We were additionally fortunate that Meredith & Tim gave us a voucher for Ten Minutes by Tractor. That allowed us to combine the experience. Let me immediately dispel any thoughts that Ten Minutes was anything short of superb. It was sublime.

Ten Minutes is a worthy inclusion on your next visit. Option to go al a carte or degustation and an eclectic wine list which didn’t leave me wanting. Extremely attentive wait staff and sommelier. The wait staff are those who are clearly career wait staff. Yep, that good. And the food. Either locally sourced or at least from the type of producer who is well known for their quality produce.

Now, back to the stunning building. If it wasn’t for the fabulous company I would have little nice to say about the following night’s venue. Do I say something bad about it? Or offer them some opportunities to improve? I don’t want to feel like a whinge, but.

Let’s start with the matching wine. Ok, showcase your estate wines, but at least tell us what it is you are pouring…is it a sauvignon (blanc I assume?), a chardonnay, a pinot gris…a little info and if I like it I may even buy some to take home.

The kicker for me was mains. I opted for the lamb double…sweatbreads for entre and belly/rump for main. So why were both served on a bed of broad beans and spring peas with a jus. And that splodge of blended black garlic. It all felt a little same, same. Lacking a little imagination?

But what about the side of leafy greens? I would have been happy to pay extra to maybe have a little dressing…but a bowl of torn oak lettuce with nothing else? Rabbit food anyone?


We finished the night with dessert, but only after highlighting the spelling mistakes on the menu to the waitress. She thought it was very funny. Lucky really…I could easily have been mistaken for someone taking the piss.


Do I name the restaurant? No, let’s just say it was a winery restaurant and if you have seen the building in the photo at the top, you may know it.

So, doesn’t matter mater how good or bad, the company is the thing to make it a great night.



More convicts


G’day Tony,

I’m back!

Ducked away to Port Lincoln in South Australia for a few days for Sascha’s birthday. I opted to not go swimming with the great whites. Just a little too much for me.

Back to our Hobart trip. After the day at MONA, we got back to eating!

Dinner was at Franklin (franklinhobart.com.au). No, a different place from the previous night. Wood fired oven, open kitchen, quirky wine list (too quirky for my mind). Food was great, highlight being the octopus. Very funky place though. Very Frank Lloyd Wright feel to the building.


Mixed it up the next day for brekkie and went to a laundromat. Machine Coin Laundry is in Salamanca, but tucked out of the way. Clearly a haunt for locals though. A warning, their coffee wasn’t really crash hot. But you can get a maxi latte which has to be at least 500mls. But, bigger doesn’t make it better. The food was nice though. A few small change ups to standard fare gave it a fresh slant and it was well put together. You can do your clothes while you wait. Handy.


A stroll through the somewhat disturbing Salamanca market followed. I can see how it was once a nice market. Now it is full of nasty, albeit Tasmanian made, touristy trinkets. Julia did pick up a really cool cycling/travel/clothes bag from a local developer who I think will make it big one day. Very clever design (henty.cc).

Just because we needed the walk, we headed up to Battery Point and found an awesome bakery, Jackman & McRoss. The place is evil good. Go hungry and make sure your insulin levels are up. I thought for a few minutes I was going to have to call for an ambulance for Julia.


Ok, wine. It’s Tassie and they do some absolutely cracking good cool growth stuff. Pinot Noir and Grigio, Rieslings, Chardonnay and bubbles. Oh my, the bubbles. If you find yourself staring at a glass from the House of Arras, don’t offer to share it!

So we headed out in the piece of crap to Coal River Valley. If it wasn’t for the football (apparently), we would have been in Richmond in about 20 mins. Even in the rental. 10 mins in a capable car. I’ve got a thing for Pinot Noir from Tolpuddle, but they don’t have a cellar door, so we stopped in at Frogmore Creek. Settled down with a glass of their passable pinot and a cheese platter. What’s not to like?


We headed back for a nap and then a pre-dinner cocktail at The Long Bar in Constitution Dock, which isn’t very long. But it part of the Henry Art Hotel so is supposed to be the place. *yawn*

Dinner was at Ethos (ethoseatdrink.com). No menu, degustation only and matching wines. Chef sources local produce from less than 100kms away daily, then designs the menu. Every day is a different experience. The super young, but thoroughly capable sommelier matched the wines, again all local, brilliantly. This was an outstanding experience, but at circa $200/per, I guess you’d want it to be. We were pretty much last sitting, so had a good chat with the staff, including the young chef at the end of the evening. We are fans.

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Despite my misgivings about the coffee, we were back at the laundromat the next morning before the tediously drive to Port Arthur. Only made tedious by my change from gentle coaxing to yelling at the rental. Nothing helped. The drive is otherwise quite pleasant.

Port Arthur was very cool though. We’ll go back there to see more of it.


We stopped at a bottle shop in Hobart on our way back and grabbed a Pooley Riesling and a Josef Chromy Pinot and headed to the waterfront for some food-truck food with a difference. They’ve got 3 or 4 floating “caravans” which serve take away seafood. Some locals worded us up on Mako, and who were we to argue. It was good and pretty cheap too.

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Creatures of habit and we went back to Smolt again. Better coffee and some quirky dishes, which I like (ham hock on bed of puy lentils with poached egg and sour dough toast). Then off down the Huon River valley for a look at the salmon farms. If only there was something resembling a pub or restaurant anywhere…but no, nothing.


We’re planning a return, as it is quick and easy to get there, but looking for an AirB n’B place we can stock up on market fresh goodies and come more local pinots! I’ll let you know when we’re planning. I think you’d love it.

Let me know if you want to head down to Tassie. Pretty sure I can convince Julia to head back.




Convicts, whisky and gin


Hi Tony

I spent a few months in Launceston (Tasmania) back in 2005.

Can’t say it was the greatest fun I’ve ever had, but that was probably because I was running a woollen mill for my boss, the Receiver. Needless to say I wasn’t the most popular person in town. Strange, because I ended up saving 92 people’s jobs?!

Anyways, back then there seemed to be little scuttlebutt about Tassie, except for a few wineries and loads of logging/woodchipping. There was (is) a restaurant in Launie, Stillwater, which had a great rep, but that was about it. When I got there I discovered that there was a lot of hype about the local produce. It didn’t take long to figure out there is some pretty great wine and some tasty morsels to be found.

I’d been thinking about a return for a while, but this time to Hobart. A few people had worded us to up that we should visit Garagistes, but that ship sailed. It closed down a couple of months ago. Never mind, there were plenty of options for us to choose as alternates.

This was a trip for Julia’s birthday, so was intended to be a surprise, but technology let the cat out of the bag (thanks Qantas!).

I found a cool 1 bedroom apartment right on the water, half way between Salamanca and Constitution Dock. So far, so good. I even reserved a rental car to make sure we could get to where ever we wanted. Pity that was a piece of crap (thanks Budget), which topped out at 90 if there was even a hint of an incline.


The Tasmanians are getting a reputation for making good whisky. We found the Nant (www.nant.com.au) bar in Salamanca. Julia isn’t a fan of whisky, but I do enjoy a wee taste. I looked at a tasting board and when I got to the sherry cask I was reaching for my credit card, but at $165/bottle (500ml) I erred. What is interesting is that every man and his dog is making gin as well. Maybe because it doesn’t need to be bonded as long as whisky it is a way to earn some return on the spend on equipment? Some of it is really good too.


Have you been to Hobart? No? Do it, its fab.

To make sure we had somewhere to eat I booked the Friday and Saturday nights. Arrival at 9pm on a Thursday was an issue though. Who would have thought a city would be basically closed? Well, it was. We eventually found Frank (frankrestaurant.com.au). Tapas style food and some ripper Pinot from barrel made things ok. Turns out it was a good thing I waved off the 3 course meal on the Qantas puddle hopper.

So, a fresh start and plans to head to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) for the day. Brekkie…Smolt (smolt.com.au) in Salamanca. Sister restaurant to Frank from the night before. Interesting menu, good coffee. Winning!

MONA is stunning. Even the ferry ride over is fun. I’m not really an art enthusiast and some of the installations were a little…ah…challenging. The 52 plaster cast moulds of vaginas was one. The “poo machine” another. But some were just flipping cool! You have to go to understand, but the building itself is worth seeing.


It was 4 day get away, so more to come.




Au naturel


Hi Tony,

Sounds like a nice time had in France?!

The oysters sound great, but I’ll see your oysters and raise you some Kumamoto’s from Tomales Bay! Tiny little tasty morsels…and when I say tiny, I mean about the size of a ‘quarter’, but oh, so good.

After heading north from San Francisco on Highway 1, we found ourselves driving along the coast of Tomales Bay and oyster lease after oyster lease. Every once and a while some quaint little restaurants built over the water with benches outside serving oyster chowder and raw oysters. We stopped at Nicks Cove and sampled some of the Kumamoto’s. They had 3 or 4 other varieties, but these caught our attention and had that ozone-y freshness. Washed down with a nice local amber ale. Much goodness.


We ventured further north along the coast then turned inland along the Russian River. Wine country. To be more precise, cool growth country. Pinots, pinots and surprisingly more pinot. Ok, I get the pinots, but other people in the world with cool growth areas make other stuff too…not sure I count Sauvignon Blanc from NZ though. That is an anomaly, but what about some Chardonnay or, heaven forbid, some Riesling? Nary a drop to be found. At least in our limited time there.

On a non-wine note, pretty cool place. We stopped at the information centre (chamber of commerce in American) in Guerneville and were happily set up with a free tasting at Moshin. Dean was pretty excited about some Aussies visiting and opened up a bunch of special treats before sending us off with another free tasting to Ridge Vineyards where the same sort of hospitality was offered.

Stunning scenery as the road meanders along the oh so attractive river which is lined with redwoods and the odd house with killer views. This place is on our list to head back to and explore more.

Napa. What a mistake. Tour buses, the same cabernets, merlots and chardonnays. It’s a little like Disneyland for people who know a little about wine (sorry Disney!). I used to like the Napa Valley. Not so much anymore. That said, a stop at the Oakville Grocery is well worth it for a fresh deli sandwich. Their “espresso” coffee is ok, but mine was hotter than the sun…which made tasting anything for the remainder of the day just that much harder.

If I had a little luck, some careful timing and the money, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Thomas Keller’s 3 Michelin starred The French Laundry, though the 100+ page wine list would be sure to stretch a sitting out some. I’ve heard there is a twist at the end?!

Lake Tahoe is the next stop. Snow? Well, there is supposed to be…I wonder if US skiers drink coffee yet? I suspect not.

Chat soon.