Visit Canberra: the Heart of Australia

There's nothing more exciting than finding hidden gems in new cities and Canberra is just another city you need to check off your list of exploration. 

Experience Australia's history through the National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. 

On your way you will discover an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars that will have your foodie senses whirling.  


Take bar Molly for example, Canberra's very own speakeasy, with a single naked bulb hanging over the doorway you're transported into a world of amazing warmth and charm, reminiscent of all those 1920's movies that we lust for.  
 

With seductive jazz in the background as well as rich timber and burgundy furnishings it's hard not to take on your best Gatsby impression and order a martini. 

The extensive selection of high quality spirits will have you questioning which drink you want first and for those that don't like to dabble  without a few appetizers, you will be able to graze on a European-style characuterie platter topped with cold meats and cheese. 

Head over to our restaurant guide for more suggestions on hidden gems in Canberra, from chef hats to your local seafood restaurant there's plenty to explore. 


~~~Molly is located in Hobart Place.  

Margan Wine Goes Back to the Future

By David Ellis from vintnews

Many years ago before wines were identified on labels by their grape varieties, they were named after their place of origin – quite often down to the actual block within a vineyard, which could contain several grape varieties.

In a somewhat back to the future move, the Hunter Valley’s Andrew Margan has released a white and a red emulating this old practice, labelling them Field Blend White – Block 8 and Field Blend Red – Block 11.

The white comprises predominantly Semillon and smaller amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio from a vineyard planted with these mixed varieties 40 years ago, all the fruit from the 2014 vineyard had been and vinified together in a single batch. The red is predominantly Shiraz with some Mataro and Tempranillo, and underwent the same process.

We loved the white it’s wonderfully fruity with forward citrus and tropical characters and crispy dry on the palate. It’s also nicely soft, and a great drop at $15 to enjoy at this time of year with a whole host of summery seafood ideas.

One to note: If you’re looking for a stand-out drop as a gift for a wine-loving family member or friend this Christmas, can we suggest Rosemount Estate’s 2012 Balmoral Syrah – then watch their reaction when you tell them not to open it until at least 2020, or if they’re really patient not for another 15 years beyond this.

Made from tiny quantities of exceptional fruit off a range of Rosemount’s best McLaren Vale vineyards, this is a ripper drop already, but will only get better and better over those years in the cellar – we’re prepared to suggest anything up to 25.

Black fruit flavours are to the fore with nice tannin and fruit acid. Pay $75 and if your Christmas recipient can’t keep their hands off opening it in the immediate future, recommend that they match it with the best beef cut their butcher can offer them.

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

A Gourmet Village with Global Cuisine

With international delights such as Heston Blumenthal and Australian favourites such as Peter Gilmore and Hadleigh Troy, it’s no surprise that tickets for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape are selling at astronomical speed. Gastronomic events are as diverse as the number of exhibitors with 52 wineries, 17 restaurants and over 100 producers bringing you the very best food and wine at the Gourmet Village.  

If in need for accommodation take to Wilderness Rise in Margaret River, a multi level home set high on eight hectares of lush, native bushland- the perfect stay for a Gourmet weekend. 

The Gourmet Village is a buzzing world of culinary excitement and the perfect opportunity to experience the delectable delights the region has to offer. Hosted at Leeuwin Estate Winery, this is where all our stars come together across one action packed weekend program filled with cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, masterclasses, intimate Q&A’s and panel discussions.

Moroccan Independence Day

November 18, 2014

A Subtle Play of Flavours


Famous for Humphrey Bogart and Casablanca, there is much more to Morocco beyond that Hollywood impression.  Moroccan entertainers – magicians, geomancers and dancers – line festive streets, alive with welcoming and fantastical cultural attractions.  Trendy hotels like pleasure palaces, eye-catchingly colourful kaftans and harem pants, and the abundant appeal of artisan crafts on every street corner contribute to the Arabesque atmosphere enjoyed by tourists.

 

The rich culinary heritage of Morocco is usually one of the reasons many are attracted to the region and guests invited into a Moroccan home are treated most hospitably, often expressed with food.  Tasty Moroccan cuisine translates with the subtle play of flavours that combine spicy, savoury and sweet, while techniques such as marrying meat, poultry, or fish with fruit are unforgettable to the palate.

 

 

November 18 marks Moroccan Independence Day, and while not every city in Australia has a Moroccan restaurant where you can reserve seats, there is ample opportunity to try your hand at their classic healthy recipes in the comforts of your own home. 

Mainly Muslim in heritage, include a couscous dish in your meal plan as its their national fare, eaten by nearly everyone on Fridays, the holy day in Islam. Green tea with mint is ritualistic in Morocco and a great complement throughout a thematic meal characteristically using spice for depth rather than to make food hot; this Moroccan beef tagine embellishes their classic use of spice.  Complete your meal with rosewater ice cream, charming your guests and ensuring they’ll return for a repeat performance. 

 

 

Discover Moroccan recipes and much more in our AGFG Recipe section.  For those who like collecting, these dishes will present well amongst copper trays with beaten designs and bold print Moroccan ceramics. 

Seek out Moroccan Restaurants throughout Australia so you can experience the refined cuisine of North Africa, punctuated with French and Spanish influences, without leaving the country. 

Going Bigger Yet Staying Boutique

Established back in 1967 as a boutique estate in the Hunter Valley, Hungerford Hill  has been owned by the Kirby family of the well-known James N Kirby engineering business since 2002. They’ve overseen the wineries growth into a multi-regional wine-making operation now embracing not only the Hunter, but NSW’s Tumbarumba, Gundagai, Hilltops and Orange regions.

Grown as it has, it has stuck by its boutique estate philosophies, and just recently under its Classic series label released a Gundagai Shiraz, a Hilltops Cabernet and an Orange Merlot from the 2013 vintage. 

The 2013 Classic Gundagai Shiraz is an elegant, medium to full-bodied wine that reflects just how well this variety does in the warm temperate Gundagai climate at around 200 to 300m altitude on the NSW side of the border with Victoria.  

With typically varietal dark fruit and black pepper notes it’s one to pair-up with Asian pork spareribs or Peking Duck, or with barbecued honey/chilli marinated steaks.

 One to note: If you enjoy a bubbly anytime because, let’s face it, you just like the flavour and the sensation of bubbles, Spain’s Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut is one to consider always having a bottle of in fridge or cellar.

This is one of the largest-selling sparkling wines in the world and officially a Cava – a wine made to the traditional Methode Champenoise. A blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo white grapes it was fermented for 10 to 12 days, racked and clarified, and then bottled for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

With flavours of green and citrus fruits and nice Mediterranean aromas in the glass, this is a bubbly with loads of sparkle and more-ish-ness about it. Well priced too at $16 to just drink and enjoy on its own, or to share with friends over a late-morning Sunday brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or Quiche Lorraine.

Peter Gilmore: Organum

UPDATE: Peter Gilmore will head up Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House.

“Bennelong is such an incredibly special site that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” said Gilmore.

“I will be celebrating Australian produce from the very tip of Queensland right down to Tasmania and where better than in Australia’s most iconic building”.

Nature|Texture|Intensity|Purity|Organum

"Multiple harmonies working together can create a new sound. The idea is also applied in the development of cuisine, using multiple ingredients achieving harmony: flavours, textures, techniques, aroma, culture and innovation that come together to create something new — a unique dish." ~Peter Gilmore.

Encased in black velvet and leather, Peter Gilmore's new book Organum doesn't just want you to read about texture he wants you to feel it, breath it in and understand how a complex group of flavours and textures work together to achieve a whole. 

Organum not only highlights Gilmore's extraordinary cuisine but also the producers, farmers and fisherman he has personally worked with over the years. 

Gilmore exclaims that texture has long been one of the most important qualities in creating his cuisine and when he planted his first garden nine years ago, he finally grasped the concept that he could use the whole plant at all stages of its growth. Take the humble pea for example, you can use the just-opened blossoms, the shoots, the leaves as well as the final fruit - at a time when heirloom vegetables were not as commonly used as today Gilmore endeavored to find quality producers as well as producing them himself in his own garden. 

Organum takes you through Gilmore's learning process in finding the right nature, texture, intensity and purity in all his recipes. This book is much more about Gilmore's journey than just his famous cuisine. We were able to catch him before dinner service at Quay for a few questions about Organum: 

AGFG: What has been the most challenging heirloom vegetable to date? 

Gilmore: Probably sea kale, I have had very limited success with it. It needs a very cold climate, I tried it in the Blue Mountains but it may have been the wrong soil type. I could possibly source it elsewhere if someone wants to have a got at it but it needs to be blanched. 

AGFG: How long did it take you to source the right Octopus? 

Gilmore: It was quite serendipitous, a producer from Coffin Bay came in with a sample of it and it was great quality. Some things just present themselves to you naturally. 

AGFG: Most have heard about the famous snow egg and it is synonymous with your name and Quay but is there any other dish you had hoped to be as acclaimed? 

Gilmore: I have has quite a few signature dishes over the year, the snow egg is more emotional because it was showcased on the second seas of Masterchef - it's pretty special for how it happened and I am really proud of the iconic dish. The other signature we have is the eight-texture chocolate cake that was on our menu for 8 years. 

AGFG: What are you most proud of in the book Organum? 

Gilmore: I really enjoyed explore my philosophy of cooking in more depth and I think I explained it in the book quite well and I also really enjoyed showcasing the producers I have formed relationships with. 

AGFG: If you had to choose one recipe to showcase Organum what would it be? 

Probably the XO Sea (on page 124) or possibly the Smoked and Confit Pig Jowl, with shiitake, shaved sea scallop, jerusalem artichoke leaves, juniper and bay (pg 95-6).

AGFG: How many house do you think you spent putting this book together?

Gilmore: I can't give you specifics but the project took about a year and I worked at least one day a week on it so it was many many hours. 

AGFG: What would you last meal be?

Gilmore: I really enjoy comfort food and the simplicity of a home cooked meal - so anything from my childhood like veal schnitzel or roast lamb would be my choice. 

Organum is available now and for iPad users, you can download the Organum companion App - a rich interactive experience narrated by Peter Gilmore himself and the world's first digital food experience. For more information head to: www.petergilmore.com.au

Visit Melbourne: A Little Bit French

Enjoy Paris to Provence on November 21 - 23, 2014. Friday 12-8pm, Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 10am - 4pm. 

If you travelled to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup, the city has plenty more to offer you. With the eclectic collection of cafes, restaurants and providores, Melbourne also hosts many artisan festivals such as Paris to Provence. In its fifth year, Paris to Provence is returning to the beautiful grounds of Como House and Garden showcasing the crème de la crème of France over three massive days. 

No One Does It Like the French

Melbourne’s French Festival will tantalise your senses with luxurious food akin to a culinary tasting tour throughout France.  Paris to Provence is highly anticipated, bringing together family and friends for a weekend full of food, fashion, entertainment and everything French.  

Gather at the historic Como House, South Yarra for three days of full immersion and pure indulgence in the smells, tastes and textures embodying the best of France.  The setting is an idyllic pop up French village with narrow lines of white marquees and a 2.5 tonne Dutch street organ serenading you upon taste and travel.

Our AGFG Restaurant guide lists French style establishments near you so that you can magically transport yourself to Europe - instead of booking a flight just book a restaurant. 

Local Chef Making Waves in Griffith

                                      Novus: Latin for novel, unusual, extraordinary, “a new thing.”         

If you’re in search for something different and unusual, head to Novus Restaurant in Griffith, NSW where young Griffith born Chef Steve Franchi has created a Modern Australian menu with Asian influences.  

Making waves in the small community of Griffith, Franchi has been marrying Asian flavours with modern and French techniques to create an eye-brow raising menu.  Moving from restaurants such as L’Oasis and ll Corso, Franchi decided that owning his own restaurant was the path he wanted to take; it was the best way for him to be immersed in the style of cooking he loved while introducing his customer’s to his culinary creations.

With menu items such as char grilled harissa rubbed kangaroo fillet with chocolate and red wine jus as well as crisp soft shell mud crab served with fresh flavours such as Sri Lankan curry and coconut – it’s hard to not be excited. 

Cook like Steve Franchi with this delicious Quail and wonton stack.

Franchi’s signature dishes are staples that you see on most inner city restaurants – twice cooked duck and slow roasted pork belly will satisfy even the fussiest critic.  All main menu items have a wine pairing suggestion and the atmosphere of the restaurant creates an elegant evening out.

With menu creations big in taste and full of flavour, Novus Restaurant aims to source local produce from around the Riverina and pair it with wines from Griffith and its surrounding areas. Franchi endeavours to support the local community and also hosts a number of wine and regional food dinners to highlight the quality of Riverina produce. 

So next time you’re itching for a road trip, put down Novus Restaurant on your itinerary.

Want to know a bit more about Steve Franchi? Check out his Chef Profile here

Touring NSW Wine Regions

Our suggestions for winery visits this Spring. 

Touring the wine regions of NSW is somewhat like a fairy tale – sun, wine, vineyards and cheese platters, it really can’t get much better than that.

Whether you’re interested in the mechanics of wine or just like tasting wine, NSW has everything you need. From Pokolbin to Wagga Wagga, cellar doors are abundant and you can be sure to taste some amazing wines.  

 

If you’re in Pokolbin take to Audrey Wilkinson Winery circa 1866, this winery is known as one of the earliest settlements to pioneer in the tradition of wine making.

Additionally, Eighty Eight offers a premium wining and dining experience in the heart of the Hunter Valley, situated within Peppers Convent Hotel. Once home to the Brigidine Order of nuns in Central NSW, this lovingly restored venue now resonates with a refined mix of grandeur and comfort, where you can indulge with a weekend of wining and dining in ultimate comfort.

Reader’s Choice Award Winning Winery Cottontail Wines in Wagga Wagga is a sight to behold, with the splendour of the Riverina you can enjoy a delicious lunch of traditional tapas, gourmet wood fired pizza or a la carte mains paired with winery wines.

If you’re heading to Orange, Ferment the Orange Wine Centre is the perfect stop as it’s centrally located on Orange’s Hill Street and showcases the best wines from the central regions of New South Wales and beyond. You’ll be able to enjoy your wine alongside charcuterie boards or cheese platters as well as enjoying four-glass wine flights which are available at the bar.

We also suggest Di Lusso Estate in Mudgee, Tertini Wines in Mittagong, Banjo’s Run in Exeter and Cambewarra Estate in Cambewarra. 

Remington Motor Inn is giving you the chance to win a weekend away to NSW Wine Country in Muswellbrook. Package valued at over $1400. ENTER HERE.

Toolangi Proves the Joy of Chardonnay

The Yarra Valley has garnered an enviable reputation over the past couple of decades for Chardonnays out of makers like Toolangi who planted their first vines there back in December 1995. 

As the latest release from this small family-owned operation, their 2012 is a veritable explosion in the glass of what Chardonnay is all about, with predominantly citrusy grapefruit flavours to the fore and quite extraordinary length (how long the flavour lasts in the back of the throat after swallowing).

Owners Garry and Julie Hounsell went in hard with the secateurs for this wine, pruning back heavily to maximise fruit flavour and quality as Yarra Valley vines, with the climate they enjoy, can be quite prolific producers. Interestingly, after harvesting, the fruit was processed at two separate wineries, Yering Station and Oakridge, with the resultant blend put together at Yering Station.

This 2012 Toolangi Chardonnay is nicely priced for a premium drop at $25, and with its full-on varietal flavours makes for an ideal partner with everything on the table from simple roast chicken, to grilled lobster if you’re celebrating, or for more casual outdoor barbecue of veal chops and mushrooms.

One to note: If that Toolangi Chardonnay was all about flavour in a white wine, Rosemount Estate’s MV Collection 2012 Shiraz is all about flavour in a red wine.

One of four wines released mid-year under the MV (McLaren Vale) Collection label, this one is again a glass whopper that’s all flavour, flavour and more flavour – with savoury blackberry to the fore and nice back-up cherry fruit, supple tannins and a long finish, justifying Rosemount’s Chief Winemaker Matt Koch’s summation that McLaren Vale is one of the company’s “most dynamic wine regions.”

Pay $25 and match this one nicely with a Sunday beef roast or barbecued herbed lamb chops.