Saturday 24 April 2010

Chateau Daillan Bordeaux Superieur 2000

With a light leather aroma, this deep ruby red wine is very thin to taste and has a reasonable amount of tannins and dark berry and light leather characteristics although it’s nothing special.

Over time the wine seemed to fill out more and it didn’t taste as thin.

We found the wine went well with balsamic-infused mushrooms, however with lamb it was too overpowering and the acid of the wine was too dominant.

Reasonable now and should keep for a number of years although with it not being a “Wow this is great wine”, I’m not convinced extra cellaring will bring out anything.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Apple & Feijoa Crumble Recipe

On a whim, I made Apple & Feijoa Crumble tonight. Seeing as I didn't use a recipe, I figure I'd better record how I made it so I know for next time! It tasted great - the fruit wasn't too sweet, in fact it was a little on the pleasantly tart side, balanced by the crumble topping. We will do this again.

Makes 2 generous serves

Stewed Fruit
2 apples (I used braeburn)
4 feijoas
2 Tb castor sugar

3 Tb rolled oats
3 Tb flour
3 Tb brown sugar
3 Tb ground almonds
I'd guess about 40g butter, maybe a little less.

  1. Peel, quarter & core the apples. Slice into 3mm widths then halve each sliced quarter.
  2. Place in a small pan with the castor sugar and about 2Tb water.
  3. Heat, stir, cook until tender but chunks are still intact rather than completely stewed down.
  4. Halve the feijoas and scoop the flesh out with a teaspoon, cutting into quarters before adding to the saucepan of apple.
  5. Cook for about 3 more minutes (or thereabouts). Remove from the heat. If there is a lot of liquid, I'd probably drain some off, but mine was good.
  6. Spoon evenly into 2 large ramekins, no more than 2/3s full.
  7. And make the crumble! Mix all the ingredients except the butter.
  8. Grate half the butter in to the mix. Rub in (I used a wire pastry rubber-doofer thing (what are they called???) because my hands are usually so warm I melt the butter in seconds - not good!).
  9. Grate the rest of the butter in and continue to rub in - judge the quantity based on the consistency of the crumble (as it happens I put too much butter in and had to add a Tb more of each ingredient - originally I'd only used 2Tb of each!!! This is how I cook though).
  10. Crumble the crumble (!) on to the cooled fruit, pat down gently, just gently!
  11. Cook at 160 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden & delicious (and a bit of fruit juice is starting to bubble up through the crumble).
  12. Serve with pouring cream (or yoghurt, vanilla ice-cream, custard... whatever you prefer).
Nom nom nom. :-)

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Moana Park Vineyard Tribute Syrah Viognier 2007

pic71Moana Park’s Vineyard Tribute Syrah Viognier 2007 is a silky smooth, lovely aromatic and tasting wine that has hint of acidity and a beautiful deep ruby red colour.

Packed with dark berry flavours and a hint of pepper, this wine is a delight to drink.  It is drinking beautifully now but I expect will still be great in a couple of years.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Donna Hay - Chocolate Stout Cake with Peanut butter frosting

I'm not generally a fan of chocolate cake. I typically find it too rich, too heavy, and too often, it's way too dry. But when I saw the slice of Chocolate Stout Cake in Donna Hay's 50th Issue Anniversary magazine, I got dragged by its moist, rich, dark, irresistible-ness! And funnily enough, along with not liking chocolate cake, I also usually don't bake - for the simple reason that if I bake it means there is baking in the house that we then eat - and we can do with out it. But this had to be tried! And I always have the option of taking baking in to work (which is where this is ultimately destined for as it happens).

Lo and behold: the Donna Hay, Chocolate Stout Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting.

The edges are a little crispy, as you can probably see in the sliced photo, I suspect this is due to me not having a loaf tin - so I used a glass meatloaf dish instead! It worked. :-)

This is a decidedly delicious cake - it's not too sweet and it is divinely moist. I have to say, the frosting is just a bit too much for my liking - both in quantity (if I made it again I'd halve the frosting recipe) and also in sweetness, but if you have a sweet tooth, and love decadently rich frostings, this is definitely one for you. We'll see what my colleagues make of it tomorrow.

For me, once was enough.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Carrot & Coriander Soup with Lentils & Lemon - recipe

We didn't have a lot in the fridge last night, but I knew I had a bunch of deliciously fragrant coriander waiting for me to find the right use for it. So after a late escape from work, I whipped up the following for dinner last night - and met with much approval and praise from Simon! (By the time I sat down to eat it my palate was completely stuffed, having tasted through the cooking process and burning my mouth at least twice. sigh.) I'm pretty confident it was damn good though. :-)

1 bunch fresh coriander, including stalks
1 onion
3 large carrots - peeled & grated
1 large kumara - peeled and chopped into about 8mm square chunks
1 lemon
Brown lentils (I was planning on using red, but only had brown in the end), about 1/2 cup I guess
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

  • Finely chop the coriander stems, sauté these in olive oil until fragrant, remove & set aside.
  • Finely chop onion, sauté in olive oil, add the carrots & kumara, stir, add water (750ml - 1 litre).
  • I waited for it to start simmering before adding the well rinsed lentils. Season with salt & pepper. About 20 minutes later, add half of the coriander leaves.
  • About 5 minutes before the lentils are cooked (which takes about 45 minutes - but I taste test rather than timing it), add the cooked coriander stems & juice of half the lemon.
  • Check the lentils are cooked & serve. Top with the remainder of the coriander leaves and a slice of lemon. We had it with bread, but it wasn't really needed. Quite hearty enough with all those lentils!

Credits: for inspiration - I read this about a week ago, but didn't refer back to it until now!

Saturday 10 April 2010

Heron’s Flight Sangiovese 2004

bottle_top Heron’s Flight is a small vineyard in Matakana, about an hour north of Auckland.  David, the wine maker, can often be found in the shop doing tastings and it is obvious he is very proud of his wine, and rightly so.

Ruby red in colour, this wine has a nice nose which I pick up cedar / wood chips.  Jane also got stewed plum to the nose.  I could identify there was fruit there, but I was a bit lost as to what it was.

To taste it is quite a dry tannic wine packed with flavour, a big body and a medium-long finish.  It has nice dark berry, cherry and black pepper flavours and a layering of complexity that makes each mouthful quite an experience.  The flavours also opened up nicely once the bottle had been open for a while and this also softened the tannins and made the wine even better to drink!

This wine will cellar for many more years and is very delicious.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Ascension “The Ascent” Reserve Chardonnay Matakana 2005

Very oaky to the nose with citrus also coming though, this wine has quite a pale colour for its age (a straw colour).

To taste, initial thought is Wow this is a BIG wine.  If you are into big oaky wines, this wine is made for you.  Grapefruit is the predominant flavour in-between the heavy french oak, sharpness that some acid brings, and an overall dry flavour.  It is an enjoyable big wine that some would say lacks a little in the fruit department, but I’m enjoying its simple citrus construct.

Drinking well now and I expect would keep for another year or two if you give it the chance.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Geocaching: What is it?

craterJane & I started geocaching this year and have been thoroughly enjoying it.

Geocaching is described nicely on the website:

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.

I was surprised by the number of geocaches very close to my home, and in fact throughout New Zealand and the World (over 1 million!!!).  Type your address into the search box on the website to see how many are near you.

first cache Inside a geocache you will find a log book to log that you have been there and depending on the size of the cache a pencil (for the logbook), items that you can swap out and replace with an item of equal value, a short overview of what geocaching is, and trackable items that tend to have a task associated with them that you can take out of a cache and help them on their journey.  Logging of finds, fail to find and the movement of trackables all occurs on the website.

One of the most interesting things about geocaching is finding beautiful areas you would never have otherwise gone to, and getting some exercise along the way.


<Cross-posted on>

Hamurana Springs (Hinerua)

Thanks to our recently adopted hobby of geo-caching, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most beautiful and memorable places I can think of this weekend. In fact, I had the pleasure of visitng 3 such places, but one was the clear stand out.

We took the opportunity of a long weekend to run away and avoid all the things that desperately need doing at home, because quite frankly, we both needed a bit of a mental holiday, and housework, or even the reminder of it, was simply not going to do the job.
So we waited until late on Thursday evening, once the worst of the crazy Easter traffic had died down and headed to Huntly to settle the cats in with their grand parents and their country holiday-home, and turned in for a good night's sleep before heading south to Rotorua on Friday morning.

After a leisurely trip down, we wandered out to the Blue Lake - I love fresh-water swimming, but haven't been anywhere suitable for longer than I care to consider. I went for a refreshing (read 'bracing'!) swim while Simon headed off around the lake to find a cache, and leave his sunglasses at ground zero, and get half way back, and have to go all the way back again before returning to find me just arriving at the car as I'd given up waiting and was by now getting really really cold! But he did find the cache and managed to find his sunnies on the return trip. Happy endings on that little tale!

On Saturday Simon had 2 caches planned for us to find, one in suburban Rotorua in a little area where all the roads were named after star signs. We walked through a public access way to a stream-side path and wandered along, admiring the crystal clear water and cool shade. I'm happy to say I located this cache, after decyphering the additional clue admittedly. We wandered a little further on, as several other geo-cachers before us had encouraged us to do, and were delighted to come upon a peaceful private beach and reserve, complete with jetties and kids enjoying the thermally heated waters at the lakeside. We both just stood and enjoyed the complete and utter peace of the place. We certainly would not have made it there if not for the promise of a geo-cache to locate - we're both fairly goal oriented it's fair to say!

Next we headed back to the car and proceeded to drive around the lake, noting the queue of traffic heading into Rotorua as we went out and expressing relief that we weren't coming back that way! At the northern most part of the lake is the Hamurana Springs. This is a place I simply will not forget in any great hurry, and plan to return to. Soon and often.

First was the beautful stream that we crossed over to get to the trail to the springs - we stood on the bridge admiring the pristinely clear water, the abundance of plump trout and the grace of the geese floating with the current. This alone was a welcome dose of tranquility, and yet it was nothing compared to what was still to come.

Shortly along the trail we glimpsed the stream again and were astonished at the almost unnaturally vivid blueness of currents within the flow. The picture to the right is very true to what we saw. But still, I have not reached the most wonderful place.

As we continued along the trail, we entered a narrow stand of Redwood trees - breath-taking in their size and in the atmosphere they created. As we kept quietly ambling through (I had a strong sense of being in a place of wonder and felt as though I ought to be talking at nothing above a whisper), the narrow stand opened out into a beatiful grove of these incredibly majestic trees. The carpet of fallen leaves, the golden glow of filtered sunlight reflecting off the myriad trunks, the perfect, uncompromising straightness of their reach toward the sky all combined to make this a place I feel entirely inadequate to describe without doing it some sort of injustice of understatement. To stand and spread your arms in this place seemed the most natural thing in the world to do. To drink in the peace, the power, the energy, the pure life of this place was a wonder, an honour and a treasured joy.

I could have spent a lifetime drinking it in and still have not wearied of it. I will return. For now, I will do so often in my memory, but so too I will return in body and draw from the energy and peace of this place.

There was more to the journey, as we continued, seeking a waypoint to a geo-cache, and happening upon the source of the spring - a shaded pool with a deep deep chasm that seemed lit by that same eerie blue we had noted in the stream further down. The current from the spring was so strong that even the ducks seemed to be straining to swim to the source.

I'm afraid I'm out of words on this one. Hopefully I've managed to portray at least a little of this magnificent spot.

More pictures in my flickr stream.

Friday 2 April 2010

Nuvolari Restaurant, Rotorua

Novolari is a well-priced restaurant located in the heart of Rotorua that we went to for the first time this evening.  Being Easter I think they were however a bit overwhelmed with the number of people around.

We started with a couple of Tapas; pizza bread that was overpowered by garlic and a collection of olives that were ok but not great.

I then had an (intentionally) very basic Pasta for an entree that was slightly overcooked but ok, and Jane had Arancini (Risotto Balls) that were were also ok.

For our mains, I had a Pepperoni Pizza that was nice, although the base was a little soft; I would however have it again.  Jane had a Fettuccini Farina that was ok.

Jane and I shared a trio of Ice creams for dessert that were good.

The service was quite slow and not polished, however our waitress was polite and corrected a couple of mishaps throughout the evening, such as us almost having our mains arrive whilst we were eating our entrees.