Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thar' She Blows!

Well, what a weekend it was for us Melbournians! After a boring day in the office on Saturday I arrived home just before the deluge. Wind, hail and rain so fierce we had rain coming inside the flat. Personally I've never seen a storm like it, I watched it all from my bedroom window and the way the wind was whipping around was downright scary. H had water coming through the light fittings in the restaurant which is never a good thing - I hear electricity and water don't mix! Check out the photos of our driveway, before and during!

Once everything calmed down and the mudslide formally known as our backyard looked stable we decided to take advantage of the public holiday and get out of Melbourne.

H's parents have had a caravan on the foreshore at Dromana forever and it's a gorgeous spot to unwind and relax and just do nothing in's also a great place to kick of a killer wine and cheese day in the Red Hill area! So that's what we, together with one of my fine selection of brothers in law, spent Saturday doing.

We kicked things off at Main Ridge Estate for a quick tasting, the Half Acre Pinot deserves a special mention. We then ducked across the road for some cheeky cheese and crackers at the Red Hill Cheesery (see pic) yum yum yum yum yum. I am partial to goats cheese and they have a fantastic selection. The Cheviot is particularly special and we have already devoured the chunk we took home!

Next on the list was Paradigm, this was something special. The air was filled with the scent of lavender and the view over the vineyards was spectacular. We were greeted by winemaker George Mihaly and walked through four really special wines. The Riesling was exquisite as was the pinot, well worth a visit.

We dropped into the Merricks General Store and were instantly greeted by winemaker Kathleen Quealy who spent a good hour chatting and pouring us wine - too many to remember but some really interesting stuff. The General Store (which was heaving) is the cellar door for Elgee Park, Baillieu Vineyard and Quealy Wines. The store is a great space and it was delightful to spend an hour there talking to the passionate Kathleen.

Our last winery was Ocean 8, relatively new it is owned by the former owners of Kooyong Wines. Only open once a month, we arrived at the cellar door a little late and missed the Pinot Gris which we had heard a lot about. The Chardonnay was great and the pinot looks like it will be in a couple of years.

Our day finished at Red Hill Brewery as all good days should (you will notice that I have not mentioned any food apart from a little taste of cheese - this is because we got so caught up in the winey deliciousness we forgot to eat and ended up back in Dromana feasting on chicken and chips...and cheviot!

So a very successful Sunday in the hills, unfortunately it all came to a screeching halt when the three of us woke up in the middle of the night drenched due to the torrential rain and very leaky annex roof, it seems we couldn't escape the weather after all!

The Mornington Peninsula is really very close to Melbourne, especially with the new east link extension, it's a perfect day trip...just make sure you have a trustworthy designated driver! H drew the short straw this time and my BIL and I were chauffeured around having a whale of a time.

Check out the websites below for more info on the wineries:

Alice in Wonder(ful)land

The story of Alice in Wonderland has always appealed to me - haunting and strange with a twist of beautiful - so when I heard that Tim Burton was recreating the classic tale I couldn't have been happier.

So when H and I had a surprise day off together yesterday we immediately decided to go and check it out. I left the choice of time and cinema up to H, a mistake evidently as he decided on the 3.30pm showing at IMAX only to discover that it was a 3pm sharp showing when we arrived to buy tickets at the theatre (this is not the first time he has made such a mistake and hence is fired from arranging social engagements going forward).

We raced across town to catch the 4pm at our local theatre - Gold Class no less, did you know it's cheaper during the day on a weekday???

Anyway, we got there eventually and loved the film. It was everything I hoped it would be, especially the Cheshire Cat voiced by Stephen Fry. Thoroughly recommend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Pathetic heading I know but in no way let it reflect the way that I really feel about tapas. I love it! The flavour, the spice and all things nice really appeal to me. I was first introduced to the Spanish delights in London, in fact one of my first 'dates' with my best friend was at a tapas restaurant. I read somewhere that tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people aren't so focused on working their way through an entire meal but rather nibble on little bits and tastes while chatting away. That was certainly true with Mrs London and it was true more recently at Bar Lourinha in Melbourne.

Located at the top end of Little Collins Street this cosy eatery is packed full of conversation and energy, even on a 'quiet' Monday night. We were seated at the bar and promptly dove into the menu, devouring green olives, Yellow Tail Kingfish 'pancetta' with lemon oil, Crystal Bay prawn tortilla, heirloom tomatoes with fromage frais, roasted mushrooms with garlic cream and a huge serve of pimientos (it's like Spanish pepper roulette, most of them are sweet and gorgeous but occasionally you get a hot one and MAN are they spicy little puppies...needless to say every single pepper that entered my mouth was hot, luckily beer sooths the pain).

It always helps to know the chef. Bar Lourinha is part owned by Matt McConnell but as most of you foodies will know the top chefs always employ a brilliant head chef to help run the show (my husband for instance ;). At Bar Lourinha that brilliant chef is Marcus Allen. Marcus and H worked together a couple of years ago and have remained great friends - who else would get the honour of a special dessert platter sent to their table?? OK, so the 'dessert platter' consisted of a couple of Kopikos (coffee lollies, a staple of the chef diet) but hey, we still felt special.

The real desserts were too good to pass up. Churros. Need I say more? Yes. Churros with dulche de leche (Spanish candied milk)....cue Homer Simpson drool noise.

So Bar Lourinha was definitely my cup of Spanish candied milk so to speak. They don't take dinner reservations but we didn't have to wait to be seated on a Monday night, apparently things can get crazy on the weekends but it's well worth the wait.

Check out the full menu and wine list at

NB The photos were taken on my phone so aren't great, but you get the idea