Top 5 Melbourne Cup Cocktails

Feel like the real cup winner this year


Attending the iconic Melbourne Cup is a truly unique experience, with an assorted ambience of formal and casual taking place nationwide on November 4th. Socialization is the key activity among the Melbourne cup attendees, which often call in the well bred (and we’re not just talking about the horses) to enjoy a day of suave suits, fancy fascinators and a sneaky drink or two ... or three ... or four...

Regardless of where you find yourself celebrating, beer, champagne and wine are the most popular cup beverages, although when mixed with a day full of sunshine can sometimes cause the day to end less elegantly than it began. This year, mix it up a little with our top 5 cocktail picks, perfect for Melbourne Cup. Light, refreshing and delicately flavoured, these cup cocktails serve as some serious hand candy, ideal for accompanying the celebrations and making you feel like the real cup winner.


5. Peachy Pink Lemonade


Good news! You don’t have to melt your face off while clutching at a lukewarm sparkling wine this year! Shake up and share around an icy pitcher or two of this sweet and simple peachy pink lemonade, with this recipe by You’re guaranteed to feel a whole lot more refreshed – with a whole lot less of a headache. It’s a win-win.


4. Rose Petal and Prosecco Punch


Roses, gin, soda and sparkling wine – it’s just a little bit fancy. Perhaps even a little fancier than the person you arrived at the cup celebrations with.  With floral and herbaceous notes from the rosewater and gin, this delicate concoction smells as good as it tastes, ensuring a subtly flavoured bubbly.  Get popping with this recipe by Couscous & Consciousness.

As a side note, make sure roses are spray free before putting them in your glass. This is a very important side note.


 3. Rhubarb Mojito


A day out in the spring sunshine should only be accompanied by one thing. Water? Hahaha ... no. A fitting spring cocktail of course. And this pretty little number by Not Without Salt is just the ticket. Making the most of spring’s luscious offerings and combining it with mint leaves, lime and nutmeg seems like the most glorious way to consume rhubarb in liquid form, and looks as elegant as you should feel this derby day.


2. Le Fizz

Chilled, sparkling, fragrantly fresh ... and conveniently made with only four ingredients! This sounds like our kind of cup day cocktail. Save the real shaking for the post cup party dancefloor and keep it super simple with the classic combination of vodka, soda, lime and elderflower (which, albeit subtle, will add the essential dash of light playful floral flavour). Grab a glass and give this recipe by Grey Goose a whirl.


1. Popsicle Champagne



The coming together of popsicles and champagne is always a joyous occasion in our books. Like a double celebration of goodness, with the added bonus of fruity flavour in your champagne. Featured by Princess Misia as an ideal summer celebratory beverage, we think the idea extends to Melbourne Cup celebrations very easily. Poptail? Chamsticle? Whatever you want to call it, this icy sensation is guaranteed to leave you feeling thoroughly refreshed and ready to race.

Bet You've Not Heard of This One

 By David Ellis from Vintnews

SYDNEY lawyer-cum-weekend winemaker, Paul de Mestre likes to sum up the fruit of his hobby as “the best wine from the smallest vineyard you’ve never heard of…”

And while we think he’s pretty much right, don’t go rushing out trying to find a bottle. He makes just 800 a year, and these can be bought only from his little 16ha vineyard on Sofala Road at Ilford in the Mudgee Region of the NSW Central Ranges, or online. And even then that’s if he’s got any…

While not officially organic, Paul takes a minimalist approach to his winemaking, trusting nature, as he says, at every turn. The result is delightful cool climate varietals that can vary considerably from vintage to vintage, but which always deliver big on texture and flavour, be they his Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or Viognier.


Best wine from the smallest vineyard you've ever heard of...


His currently available 2012 de Mestre Wines Shiraz at $30 is a corker, coming from a perfect vintage – and by adding a touch of Viognier he’s achieved a wine that’s nicely fragrant and has forward flavours of plum and black pepper that make it an ideal accompaniment with slow-roasted Greek lamb (how we enjoyed it.) Go to to organise a bottle or six, or to arrange a vineyard visit.


ONE TO NOTE: New Zealand's Matua that can claim to being the country’s first producer of Sauvignon Blanc 40 years ago, has now come up with an interesting concept with the release of three labels that give buyers some extra help in choosing off the shelf the style of Sauvignon Blanc that best suits their palate.

Label helps you choose off the shelf the style of Sauvignon Blanc that best suits your palate.


The label of their Matua Smooth describes it as “soft and elegant,” and being from the warmer Hawkes Bay region more luscious, juicy and food friendly; a Matua Crisp as “fresh and tropical” with vibrant Marlborough tropical fruit and citrus fruit flavours and fresh, crisp acidity; and a Marlborough Matua Lighter as “cool and fragrant” with tropical passionfruit and gooseberry flavours and 25 per cent less alcohol/calories.


Each of these 2014 vintage wines is priced at $22 through BWS.

Belinda Jeffery – Utterly Delicious Simple Food


It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary ...


We all have the recipe books that stay glued to the coffee table or on permanent display on the kitchen shelf, full of stunning photographs, decadent multi component steps and pristine glossy pages. Then we have the well worn staples, dog eared and splashed with remnants of dinners gone by –and Utterly Delicious Simple Food by Belinda Jeffery is the quintessential go-to for all occasions.

With over 80 simple yet sumptuous dishes at your fingertips, Belinda’s collection of recipes are conveniently divided to suit the seasons. From cool days filled with Turkish slow cooked lamb, prunes, saffron and cinnamon with harissa couscous through to fresh summer sensations like white cut chicken with ginger and lime dipping sauce, every day ensures a fitting feast.  From lazy weekend breakfasts of Boston baked beans with smoked pancetta



For ‘in between days’, Belinda Jeffery keeps it simply delicious with creative concoctions like peperonata and spaghettini frittata with harissa cream, allowing you to clean the fridge and put a delicious spin on your leftovers.



And, of course, who can resist the sweet stuff. When it comes to dessert, Belinda ensures you will save a space for something indulgent, be it a slice of ‘really simple, really lovely’ chocolate cake or perhaps the banana ice cream with salted caramel sauce and pine nut and honey brittle.


Holidays on Hamilton Island

By Julie Fision

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Queensland for most of my life and it’s taken me until now to discover Hamilton Island. My heart still belongs to Noosa, but Hamilton Island is right up there when it comes to a family holiday destination, especially with teens.

A week in the Whitsundays was going to be my chance to do lots of reading – always useful before the start of a new writing project. But sailing, snorkelling, paddle boarding, golfing and bush walking got in the way of that.



I did have a moment to pick up a book when the rest of the family spent the morning go-karting. Given my history of holiday accidents, I wasn’t going anywhere near crazy underage drivers.  

But the big surprise for me was the food. Hamilton has some really great restaurants. Top of the food chain is Bommie – the yacht club’s stylish fine-dining venue. It’s the perfect place for a special night out with deliciously modern food and innovative cocktails.

There are several other good restaurants on the marina side of the island, but for laid-back family dining my pick is Coca Chu, overlooking Catseye Beach. The food is Asian hawker-style. I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia but I’ve never had anything like beetle-leaf wrapped lobster with roasted coconut slung at me from a hawker stall. Heaven. And I’m still dreaming about the lime-cured king fish and the mouth-watering beef ribs. The food was so good we ate at Coca Chu two nights in a row. The best tables are outside on the deck, and bookings are essential in school holidays.


Sigh. Take me back there.

Indulge in Food, Wine and Brew

 AGFG is proud to sponsor the inaugural Indulge Food, Wine and Brewers Festival in Penrith.  

The first ever food, wine and brewers festival is coming to the Western Suburbs of Sydney this October 25 and 26 at Panthers Pavilion in Penrith. 

A full two days of food, wine and beer will be at your fingertips with the finest tastes in gourmet produce, wines and atmosphere. Boasting 60 exhibitors within the main pavilion alongside pop-up restaurants, authentic cellar door experiences, beer and ciders gardens as well as high tea experiences and a VIP marquee, this festival is not one to be missed.

Master classes from celebrity chefs will take part on the Main Stage inspiring you with industry secrets and entertainment as part of your ticket entry.  Live entertainment, prizes and giveaways will be abundant as well as discounts, samples and freebies.

Indulge Food, Wine and Brewers Festival is open to the public from 10am-8pm Saturday October 25 and 10am-5pm Sunday October 26, it will be the perfect place to be this spring. 

Get your tickets HERE.

$10 Chardonnay's True Value for Money

By David Ellis from Vintnews

LINDEMAN’S Bin 65 Chardonnay has long been one of the best value-for-money Chardonnays in this country (and in international markets too,) one that at a current $10 never fails to satisfy for flavour, with a toss-it-down enjoyment and extremely reasonable price.

Interestingly while launched onto the market here 23 years ago, it had in fact been in production for six years before that – to supply the Northern Hemisphere that had taken with gusto to the drink’s fruit-driven and easy-drinking style, and when eventually released in Australia in 1991 was an overnight equal success.

Get the conversation going around a seafood lunch or dinner with this great drop.


The current-release 2014 made from fruit sourced across a wide area of South Eastern Australia maintains the tradition, with lovely fruit salad, fig, peach and toasty oak aromas that follow through delightfully on the palate. Enjoy it on its own pre-dining as the conversation gets going, in the party-room, and indoors or out where it makes for a terrific match at the table with all manner of seafoods.

And you’ll notice that it’s new label’s got some changes to it, with a sketch of Dr Henry John Lindeman’s 1885 Cawarra homestead set within a triumphal wreath featuring Australian native eucalyptus and gum nuts, and under these the Latin phrase ‘Felicitas in Vitae,’ meaning ‘In Life Happiness’ – from Dr Lindeman’s own favourite quote “the one purpose of wine is to bring happiness.” 

ONE TO NOTE: THE Hunter Valley’s Briar Ridge has just released its 2014 Single Vineyard Dairy Hill Semillon that garnered a Trophy for Best 2014 Semillon at this year’s Hunter Valley Wine Show.

A great coup for Chief Winemaker Gwyneth Olsen who joined the company only last year, this is a drop that came from low-yielding vines with wonderful concentrations of flavour, that in turn reward in the glass with elegantly crisp citrus and refreshing acidity, and with accompanying lemon and lime aromas.



 Enjoy this trophy winner 

At $35 a great partner with oysters with Asian sauces, seafood salads, or crab.


AGFG Wine Shop NOW OPEN - Win a Year's Worth of Wine



To celebrate the opening of the AGFG Wine Shop, we are giving away a year’s supply of wine!

Enter here


Why should you make the AGFG Wine Shop your online wine supplier? 

Because our five point advantage check makes it all too easy;


5.  Make your choice from an impressive selection of award winning wines

4.  Receive a free 20% off shopping coupon for a better bottom line price

3.  Mix and match any 3 packs to add a little variety to your selection

2.  Rest assured with a 100% quality guarantee

1.  Enjoy wine direct to your door with free delivery Australia wide

Our wines are selected from small handpicked parcels made available through our long standing connection with the boutique wineries of Australia, with our wine judges seeking the best quality selections and price conscious picks.

You will find our award winning wines are endorsed with James Halliday as well as the Wine State High Point Rating, with a few awarded medals on the world stage.  

Our mix and match 3 packs are designed for AGFG members to enjoy a greater variety of our selections. Simply choose any 3 pack or add additional 3 packs and be sure to use your 20% off free shopping coupon for any 3 pack or packs that you choose.

Your check out price is the final total, as we pay the freight with free shipping Australia wide to your door.

Our wines are not readily available in supermarket and liquor chain outlets, so take advantage and enjoy something truly special today.

Buy with confidence – the AGFG Wine Shop guarantees quality wines and better prices.

5 Recipes That Will Give You Spring Fever


 Savour the flavours of fresh spring dining 


Stuff your knitted jumper into the back of your closet and grab your sunnies; the days are longer, skies are bluer and everybody is emerging from hibernation to the outdoors to enjoy garden parties, picnics and sunset cocktails. Spring has sprung and with it comes a new menu. Fresh green garden vegetables, seasonal fruit and light, refreshing treats are all highlights for the warmer weather so get inspired with a bite of these sumptuous springtime dishes. 

5. Beet, goat’s cheese and honey tarts


The union of fresh beets and goat’s cheese is hard to ... beat (sorry ...); combine it with puff pastry and honey however, and you veer from the usual salad into a whole different realm of spring feasting. Perfect for sharing around at picnics or even scarfing down in solitude, this recipe by How Sweet Eats keeps it refreshingly simple. Well, that and nobody can say no to layers of buttery, flaky pastry, especially when topped with creamy goat’s cheese.

Keep in mind that you may not regularly spot golden beets in Australia – they are available, but you will have to do some heirloom hunting beforehand. Basically, this requires some prior preparation, but the best things are worth searching for, right? Plus, what a great time of year to get exploring around your local farmers markets. 


4. Strawberry Rhubarb Sundaes 

Sweet, tart, creamy and crunchy – we vote spring sundaes for days. A quick and easy recipe by Martha Stewart, this topping can be refrigerated for up to a week – but let’s be real, nobody needs a week. The addition of shortbread wedges only serves to further this mouth watering dessert as a favourite sweet spring indulgence.


3. Grilled eggplant with fresh cheese, spring onion, cherry tomatoes and fig  

Colour upon colour, this dish encompasses the seasonal flavours you absolutely must shove in your face this spring. Also, figs!

Snapped by photographer and food stylist Monica Walecka, these grilled eggplants filled with fresh cheese, spring onion, cherry tomato and fig can be bulked up with the addition of quinoa or brown rice for an easy dinner, or kept simply sumptuous as is for a lunch worthy of enviable staring. 


2. Pea and herb goats cheese tart

You’re starting to see the pattern here – combine some spring vegetables with cheese and it’s an instant success. And fittingly, this recipe by Gourmande in the Kitchen does not disappoint. Aka – ‘spring on a plate’, this picturesque pea and herbed goats cheese tart is made with an almond flour tart base and a creamy filling highlighted with fresh basil, mint, parsley and chives.  Topped with a wealth of fresh peas (ideally blanched to retain their snap, flavour and bright colour) and a scattering of micro greens), the contrasting textures of crisp and creamy make this tart a fitting addition to your next backyard garden party, perfect for showing off how your garden grows.


1. Violet and lemon éclairs

Candied violets and lemon cream = spring’s new staple ingredients? We hope so (move along, strawberries and cream). Floral in fragrance and French in nature, these delicately delicious sweet treats made by Twigg Studios are what the essence of spring is all about. The combination of light choux pastry, lemon filling and a topping of candied violet flowers are just made for spring time and impressing your guests over a pot of tea. 

The Dark Horse Who Bucked to the Top

By David Ellis from Vintnews

HORSES whose careers put them out there in the public eye, can generally be considered to have a pretty short future if they continually buck their owners at the most inappropriate of public moments.

Such was the case with a steed named Adlai who – whilst considered the most-handsome in the Victorian Mounted Police at the time – unfortunately bucked overboard his commanding officer once too often, and with exquisite timing.

Instantly condemned to the knackery, Adlai was saved by Judy Rymill of Rymill Coonawarra fame who rescued him for a song – and responding to a female’s touch, he went on to become a champion in dressage, show jumping, high jumping and 3-day events here, as well as representing Australia in some events at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Although Judy and Adlai have both passed on, Adlai is now being commemorated in a wonderful new 2013 Rymill Cabernet Sauvignon ‘The Dark Horse,’ a wine with an as-lively a character as Adlai himself, and loaded with blackcurrant, mulberry and dark cherry flavours, rich chocolaty undertones and hints of mint.

As lively a character as the dark chestnut thoroughbred it is named after.

At $23.95, reminisce about Adlai over this wine with roast duck and a cherry sauce.


ONE TO NOTE: FIANO is a crisply dry white hailing from the Campania region of Southern Italy, and while not widely made in Australia it’s loyal following is growing appreciably amongst fans of labels made here in mainly South Australia and Victoria.

Family-owned boutique, Fox Gordon has an enticing Fiano it makes from fruit from the Adelaide Hills, and with white peach, nectarine and citrusy flavours coupled with interesting minerality, is a joy with – what else – such Italian dishes as pan-fried garlic sardines, or gnocchi alla Sorrentina… gnocchi with basil, Mozzarella and tomato sauce.

 Gaining popularity and ideal with pan-friend garlic sardines.

A great drop at $22.95 from select premium liquor outlets.

Spring is in the Air

Get back into a healthier lifestyle - by Annette Sym 

The weather is getting warmer so we can now start thinking about salads, exercise and swimming. During winter most people tend to hibernate, jumping out of bed at 6am when it is dark and cold can stop even the most health conscious person. Longer daylight hours and warmer weather lifts the spirits and so now is the perfect time to get your health and exercise routines back into full swing. Let’s get ready for summer, here are some tips:

1. Try on your favourite summer outfit from last year and see how it fits now. If it is a bit snug or the buttons don’t do up then take this as a sign that you need to shed a few kilos before summer kicks in. Another good idea is to put on your swimmers and take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If not then do something about it, now!

2. Dust off the barbie and get back to cooking your meat on the grill and serve with interesting salads. Making tasty sauces to pour over steak will give meat a lift and make it much more tempting. Barbequing your meat allows the fats to escape through the grill, a great way to reduce the fat count. If you find it is still too cool for salads then sauté some vegetables on the flat side of the barbeque with some garlic and spices.

3. Spring means crisp apples, tasty oranges, mandarins and strawberries are at their best. Vegetables such as artichokes, snow peas, bokchoy, asparagus and avocados are also in season. Why not make up some homemade dips to take to picnics and barbeques or fruit salads for a healthy snack for the kids. 

Zucchini Slice from Book 1.

4. Spring means it is time to stop having the heavy stodgy winter foods, spring means lighter healthier meals, more fresh fruit and time to get back outside and exercise. This is such a beautiful time of the year so enjoy what spring has to offer and get healthy at the same time. 

5. Instead of doing a spring clean at home do a spring clean of your eating habits. Throw out any bad habits that have caused you problems over winter and look for new ways to shed those unwanted kilos. Your attitude determines your actions, so act now and reap the rewards.

Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-7 are sold in all good newsagencies. Visit Annette’s website for more tips and recipes. You can also join Annette’s Facebook page