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Price: FREE at selected tourist outlets in Australia 12-month subscription $24.95


Abstract Artist-in-Residence

Katrina Pizzini

New cooking school & book: A Tavola!

CosmoreX Coffee

Capital country espressonists issue 17 mid-autumn 2010


It’s not only about quality of materials and manufacture.

Wilko Cabinets Pty Ltd. - Adventurous Living



specific thespecific suitthe tosuit design to innovative design It’s innovative requirements of site. the site. of the requirements


a curved interesting be anspace, going always This house amily was friendly, plenty of to bench easy toproject. clean, It’s durable and featuring Ranges, Warby the from views in take to designed housewith a warm yet modern feel – this is one of our most proud The masonry. stone jarrah lines and materials, modern renovation clean,kitchen to date. contrasted Featuring with recycled timber professional couple wanted cabinetry for their entire house, including cabinets, with timbers taken from the existing kitchen, and a unique their own individual offices. It would have been inconceivable to wrap-around design following the contours of the room, the challenges treat each element as a separate project, and not acknowledge the for Wilko in this were to manufacture and install a one-piece solidconsiderations. design onsite andcase architectural surface benchtop including a waterfall-edge, sophisticated cornering and seamless coved splash-backs. the bench fits seamlessly into the window design. the kitchen, In while the high-gloss stonework, the architectural respond tometiculously topsFeaturing Bench constructed decagon-flow cabinets, to colours selected carefully reflect natural andtwo-pack surfaces finished capture in tough, satin light. paintWe finishes and overhead jarrah concealed is bar drinks The beyond. landscape and house the with meld cabinets set with steel mesh, the complex becomes the cohesive when purposewas kitchen a small and utilises doors behind viewing retractable this detailed, free-flowing design. Everyspace. part ofIt this is created to integrate a wine storage refrigerator, and is made from smartly integrated; from the duel solid-surface under-mount stainless recycled Red Stringybark. Draw handles were avoided, because simplicity Abbey ‘Quadrato’ double square-bowl sinks, to the sleek induction was the key. The offices feature angular bookcases that are shaped to cooktop and practical ‘roller-tidy’ appliance designs mirror one another, theircentre. and while of the building, curvature the has of created and satisfying Wilko’s inventiveness the individual. Throughout each user-friendly reflect the taste materials different family as living space while sympathetically the warmth and a creating are integrated, and detailingconsidering materials a whole, house and flow. unity sense feel ofofthe existing house. If the idea of unique design suited to your individual requirements, your individual to available suited unique design the idea of making Ifrequirements, optimum use of space and light and combining and light, and space available of use optimum making combining innovative and high quality materials, appeals, talking to us innovative and high quality materials, appeals, talking to us could be could be rewarding. rewarding.

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Stone DwellerS 2008 Chardonnay James Halliday Wine Companion 2010 - “Still very light colour; an elegant wine, with a lingering, drawn-out finish emphasising the length of the palate; citrussy acidity also comes to the party, the oak very well integrated and balanced.” Rating 94

Stone DwellerS 2008 Chardonnay Pinot noir Recommended and served by Qantas Club Business Class lounge.

Stone DwellerS 2008 Pinot noir James Halliday Wine Companion 2010 - “well-made, capturing all the varietal character available; spicy/briary notes are authentic; clever use of higher than normal acidity to balance the alcohol; surprise packet.” Rating 89 Recommended and served by Qantas Club Business Class lounge

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Stone DwellerS 2006 Shiraz SILVER - Strathbogie ranges wine Show 2009 Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front 17/09/09 “Shiraz is the Strathbogie ranges’ best-performed grape variety. lifted and aromatic, peppery and fruit-driven... earthy, meaty character. Quite lovely.” Rated: 92 Points

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Red Ramia Trading + Red Ramia Trading Encore 145 and 157 Great Alpine Road, Myrtleford, Victoria Tel. 03 5752 1944 • Web. • Open. 7 days

managing editor | content Jamie Durrant

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Lisa Maxwell

arts editor Ivan Durrant

advertising | sales Jamie Durrant Tel. 0419 006 391

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Created inhouse by Essential Media


Krysten Manuel Caroline Pizzey, Emma Westwood, Gilbert Labour, Jamie Durrant, Stephanie Williams

Katrina Katrina Pizzini’s Pizzini’s A a Tavola! 12 18


Katrina Pizzini


Jamie Durrant, Charlie Brown, Clare Plueckhahn, Emma Westwood

additional photographs & content

Essentials would like to thank the following contributors for additional content and images: Asher and Luba Bilu, Catherine Sutherland, John Mitchell, Cath Bowdler, Ayana Resort. editorial production [larger files] our websites publisher Essentials Magazine Pty Ltd. ACN: 132 426 576 PO Box 967, Benalla, Vic 3672. Tel: 03 5762 3485 All photographs and text are the property of Essentials Magazine and or the rightful copyright holders. Under no circumstances are they to be reprinted or published by any means whatsoever without written permission of the editor. While we always try to clear and confirm all editorial content (both text and photographs) before publishing, we welcome the opportunity to correct any errors or omissions. The opinions of the contributors and/or columnists are not necessarily those of the publisher. Essentials aims to please and support the North East region via pleasurable and positive content. Every effort is made to confirm event and calendar dates and factual information, although at times please understand that errors can occur – we’re only human! Essentials strongly recommends travellers phone event managers and tourist operators to confirm dates and events prior to enjoying the fruits of this region. Essentials Advance Plus cardholders are required to register their cards online. We welcome your reviews, letters, feedback and support.

features 14 18 24

Espressonists – CosmoreX Coffee, Canberra A Tavola! – Katrina Pizzini The Many Faces of Paradise – Ayana Resort, Bali

food & drink 48 52 58 64

Long Way to the Top – Eden Road Wines, Canberra It All Begins with a Humble Grape – Winemaking with Sam Plunkett Roi’s – Kiewa Valley, Victoria Wh-wh-what? Wh-wh-where? – The Whorouly Grocer

art & fashion 30 57

Artist-In-Residence – Asher Bilu Colour Country – Art from Roper River

discovery & adventure 38 60

15 Reasons to Visit – Milawa Gourmet Region 2010 La Fiera Festival – Myrtleford’s 10 days of fun, the Italian way

regulars 10 12 66

Essential Destination – Yarra Valley Dairy / Poachers Pantry Now Try This – Hook and Spoon Must Drink Wines – Sam Miranda of King Valley

Price in Australia: FREE at selected tourist locations, $24.95 12-month subscription via This issue: No. 17 – mid-autumn 2010 (You’re only as good as your last envelope.)

Essentials Magazine is printed in Australia by GEON Impact Printing. COVER: Asher Bilu Heavens Series 2, 2008 Photography by Luba Bilu © Asher Bilu

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Mixed and pure, open composition, spontaneous self-expression, emphasis on intensity, crucial element of human perception, (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time). Perfect coffee, one cup at a time.

PREMIUM ESTATE GROWN - LOCALLY ROASTED 47 Kembla Street, Fyshwick, ACT 2609. tel. 02 6280 7511 web.



YA R R AVA L L E Y D A I RY Being herded is a way of life for humans and livestock alike. From the time we are herded through the bright gates of the local preschool by our teary mothers, through to the blood-boiling fury of peak hour traffic on the way to our respective jobs, we might not be all too aware of our repeated daily rituals. I pondered this as I was happily herded through the long corridor into the Yarra Valley Dairy Cheese shop and factory, knowing full well of what gourmet crafty-cheesy delights awaited me inside. Personally, I feel the cows don’t seem to enjoy being herded through the dairy twice daily for milking. They moo in constant frustration, boredom and anxiety at being rushed along. I have to say, however, although I sympathise with the frustration of my bovine friends, their labours finish up tasting so devilishly good... Thanks girls! As viewed from the YVD’s converted milking shed, 500 exceptional-quality hard workers of both the Friesian and Jersey variety stare inquisitively inside, mooing greetings and/or frustrations to the dairy’s patrons, who gaze at the paddocks from the YVD’s windows.  Yes folks, this place is, without a doubt, the ultimate paddock-to-plate, Australian farm, foodie experience. Here, undeniably fresh, high quality milk is pumped directly from the dairy through an underground line to the cheese factory, where Jack Holman creates award-winning, handmade farmhouse cheeses that are served daily. Mary and Leo Mooney own historic ‘Hurbertswood’, the lush property on which this busy ‘slice of life’ thrives. In this part of the world, the valley slopes roll down to the Yarra River flats, which in flood bring rich silt across the plains, growing top-quality grass, which in turn plays an important role in the production of fine cheeses such as the famous Persian Fetta — extremely popular with chefs nationwide, as featured on the menu at Canberra’s Poachers Pantry (see article on opposite page). The multi award-winning pride of YVD, Persian Fetta, recently took home the Champion Flavoured Cheese award at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards, with its smooth, creamy texture and full, rounded flavour, dubbing this cheese a consistent favorite. Made from fresh cows’ milk marinated in fine herbs, garlic and oil and stored in brine, part of the Australia-wide love for this cheese is in its versatility — even once you have eagerly gobbled up the cheese, herb infused olive oil remains as a fine ingredient in itself to smartly better and refine any salad.  Another key to success are the sharp minds and skilful hands that birth and mature the cheeses. Jack Holman has been a cheesemaker at YVD for eight years and is celebrating his recent award for Innovation in Dairy Manufacturing at the renowned Australian Dairy Awards, entailing a $20,000 grant to purchase new equipment and research overseas knowledge and skills. Keen to join the herd? If so, Essentials recommends sampling a cheese tasting plate and local pinot noir from the all-day grazing and slurping menu. With rolling Black Spur mountain-range views spied form the louvre, open-panelled windows, even a quick coffee and a taste of the Le Jack camembert-style, matured cheese at this place is a dream come true. A cheese dream, that is. Open 10:30am-5pm daily Mc Meikans Road, Yering, Victoria Tel. 03 9739 0023

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P OAC H E R S PA N T RY I’m often amazed at how different minds perceive sights, sounds, smells and even facial expressions differently. Where one might see confidence and laughter, for example, others pick up on slight insecurities, aggressiveness or perhaps fragility. When the sky is dark with rage, some revel in the knowledge that with it danger and drama is about to unfold — certainly true of those insanely twisted storm chasers. Regardless of my past life, hearing damaging music career (guitarist-singer-songwriter), I’m these days pleased to frequently reminding myself that my hearing, or rather my tonal perception, is extremely acute. Similar, also, are my photographer’s now-sharper, more lightsensitive eyes. Further to this, when I visit a restaurant or café, I don’t simply see a room and a plate of food. I’ve now focused my critical discernment towards all details — the little delights. Lighting (natural or otherwise), cutlery shapes and designs, the wait staff and their actions, floor speed and vocal tone, menu fonts, paper, packaging and food ingredients, the clientele and their attitudes. For me, it’s all encompassing; even noticing the exact spot where the floor might need re-polishing or which chef at what restaurant plates up the best in visual food-art. This is how I now explore my world. So along Nanima Road, Murrumbateman, I drove — just 20 minutes or so north of Canberra, at near sundown. As I snaked my way towards my accommodation, I kept an eye out for signage to Poachers Pantry, my next day’s food review port of call. Framed by a gently undulating landscape, this narrow country lane presented many hill bends and river dips, so I sped up just a little to feel the thrill: 20 seconds of mad mouse gut-dropping adrenalin. To my surprise, I next spied something odd crossing the road up ahead. ‘What is this thing?,’ I asked to myself. This tiny creature popped out of nowhere: slow moving, crawling in the near darkness. With food on the brain, it appeared as what looked like a dark-brown dinner plate, topped with an overcooked round steak and leaves of rotted, month-old cabbage. All this, and with legs — it was alive! Clearly, in that moment I had no idea, but as I got closer it became painfully obvious: ‘Tortoises? What are these guys doing all the way out here?’ I asked myself. ‘Probably escaped from a zoo,’ I diligently replied. I swerved and congratulated myself a second time as I passed yet another tortoise. ‘My eyes are doing okay!’ I thought. ‘What a road!’ Slow as tortoises may be, they do actually move, unlike the seriously relaxed luncheon crowd I was soon surrounded by the next day at Poachers Pantry — a true Canberra region foodie icon. My visit was to be a fast-paced and proactive one, thus upon arrival, my ‘God, I need a holiday’ envious emotional reaction to seeing these possibly food-inebriated visitors became amplified, or rather, exacerbated. ‘How could they be this chilled out? Turkey? Tryptophan overdose? I don’t think so’. Although I had come to sample the famous smoked meats, drink the wine and snap a few images — all within a two-hour timeframe — I, thankfully, could not have expected that evil sleep-inducing bird on the menu. Spiced, smoked Thai chicken, yes; however no oversized, noxious barndoor fowl. Regardless, I spotted yet another yawning customer looking down upon his after-lunch coffee cup. Well, it was late afternoon — a nap perhaps? At this stage, with my extra-sensory-perception switched to full-tilt, a smokehouse platter arrived at my table. Immediately I got to work, doing what I do best: seeking out the best available photography light, selecting the right lens, framing the food, positioning the wine, snap, snap, snap — and then, finally, I could eat. For me, with photography, it’s all about colour. When I photograph food it must dazzle me, and dazzle this first slice of meat certainly did. It was pink, bright, luminous and sliced so thin, it became divinely transparent. I had been waiting to try this, the Kangaroo prosciutto. Sweet and tangy with a robust flavour: however lightly smoked in the northern

European style. Also on the platter was a range of handmade dips, including an eggplant and seeded mustard kasundi, stuffed olives, dolmades, a classic procuitto and that lightly smoked, fragrant, spicy Thai chicken I had expected. In terms of beauty, it was the peppered beef sirloin that had me amazed. Being cold-smoked, it was moist with a soft and creamy mouth feel. Silky, herbaceous, lightly-salted and dancing on my palate with sweet, flavoursome pepper. Although I really enjoyed the platter, I felt exceedingly impressed with the Pantry’s overall operation and staff professionalism, not to mention the inhouse Wily Trout wines, produced from the property’s large undulating vineyards. Restaurant manager Joe kindly first poured and talked me through a range of skillfully created sparklings (the citrusy and clean Fingerlings NV pinot-chard, I absolutely adored), next the 2005 Wily Trout Chardonnay (showing evidence of decent time on lees) and, finally, the standout 2005 Wily Trout Shiraz, a show-stopper: lush, silky, soft, ripe, delicate fruit, chocolate, tobacco, blackcurrants, plum and spice. With clean, lifted floral touches, this wine appealed to my heightened senses and sealed the deal. A beautiful location, ideal photography light, fine service and fantastic food and wine. I’ll be back! Nanima Road, Hall, Australian Capital Territory Tel. 02 6230 2487

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[ntt] THEREALDEALHOOK&SPOON hat ever happened to the Sunday lamb roast? Are we losing our W cultural identity? With the media throwing so many detailed Masterchef-esque culinary food challenges at us, perhaps our humble

Top of page: Family Hook & Spoon, the Leathams, pictured from left: Georgia Mae with Phoebe Lou, Sandy (Grandy), Rose Hart with bub, Gussie Ray, Bonnie Joy and Corrie William. Above: A typical family breakfast menu. Above left: Mutton silverside roast.

family food traditions are becoming increasingly underrated. Among all this hype you might notice the term ‘slow food’ bandied about — unusual, considering the length of time it takes for these TV chef, celebrity wannabes to put together a decent plate of food. Although ‘slow food’ is a popular term, it’s still increasingly hard to find the real deal; in which case, it’s nice to consider that Sandy Leatham’s Benalla butchery and larder, Hook and Spoon is truly slower than a snail’s pace. ‘Slow food, like a lot of things has become formalised — and I’ve been doing it forever without knowing that it’s got a name, it’s just how we lived.’ Drawing from her experience as a newlywed farmer in Tasmania, Sandy is proficient in quality DIY farm-made food. Being self-sufficient was a vital ingredient in allowing her to succeed in her way of life on the farm. There was no power, and to put food on the table, Sandy looked to her then tools of the trade: extensive veggie garden, reliable house cow (she made her own cheese) and trusty shotgun — rabbit ragout, anyone? These days, Sandy produces an astonishing range of meat products at Hook and Spoon, a business that has become a paddock-to-plate icon and much-loved food destination on Victoria’s culinary map. With Merino wethers and Angus cattle run organically on her Warrenbayne farm (animals are not chemically drenched and run freely, grazing on native grasses and flora) and a herb garden at the back of the shop, Sandy oversees production of mutton and beef from all aspects of the animal breeding and husbandry, through to its butchering, hanging and cooking. As a fourth generation butcher it is not surprising that Sandy has instilled in her children a passion for growing and making their own food from scratch. While daughter Georgia works beside Sandy in the shop, son Corrie is proud and proactive at managing the farm. Tending to their own impressive vegetable gardens, which yield an astonishing, consistent harvest, daughters Bonnie and Rose have also recently taken to making their own breads and yogurts. Using traditional English meat preservation and cooking methods, Hook and Spoon creates all the things you wish your mum had made. Potted meats like shank, pork and ox tail are a treat, a delectable range of pies, stocks, relish, gluten- and preservative-free sausages, as are terrines, or ‘picnic loaf’, as Sandy calls it, made with chunky mutton and pork meat pieces. ‘It looks great when you slice it, it’s just beautiful.’ Also on the menu is Sandy’s ever popular water crust pastry pork pie, which has proven to draw customers back time and time again. ‘We make that with a mixture of lard and butter — it’s pretty old-fashioned. We make the pie with a hole in the top and cook it fairly slowly so the meat in the middle shrinks and you’re left with sort of a gap around the edge. So when it’s cold, you pour in some of your really beautiful pork stock to complete the pie.’ In terms of meat processing, there is little wastage at Hook and Spoon. You could say, for example, that nearly every part of a pig (including its ears for puppy treats) is made into a food product — except, of course, its squeal. Also on the larder shelf is a range of premium stocks for cooking. ‘Making the stock is a really important thing. We use the stock in our pie fillings and a couple of local chefs order the stocks from us, along with other meat products. The bones are just lovely for stocks, you know, they’re too good to give to the dogs.’ Accompanying Sandy’s unique lifestyle is an alternate view towards healthy foods — for example, considering the consumption of processed fats, or low-fat food products, versus natural animal fats. ‘I’ve always thought that animal fat is healthier than margarine or things that are highly processed. A lot of my customers are interested in our products because they’re natural and they too have the belief in animal fat (in moderation) being healthier than something processed. I also think cooking with fat is a lot more flavorsome and sometimes it’ll be self basting by having that layer of fat.’ So, if you if you like Sandy’s take on a natural foodie approach, take a trip to Hook and Spoon to witness the spoils of Sandy’s selfsufficient lifestyle; maybe even take a piece of it home for yourself. ‘It was sort of out of necessity but then it just became a passion; I mean, it was just so interesting doing all your own stuff. You feel so proud sitting down to a table where everything’s from your place. It’s also a beautiful thing to share with your family.’ 16b Carrier Street, Benalla, Victoria Tel. 03 5762 2044

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magazine autumn 2010 page12.5


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i have measured out my life with coffee spoons



he ethereal emanations of roasting coffee beans reach out with cartoonlike beckoning of tantalising and alluring, almost hypnotic tentacles. These insinuate and invade the olfactory senses and beguilingly lure you through the door to CosmoreX’s new state-of-the-art roasting warehouse, café and coffee education centre. The spanking-new purpose-built building, swathed in thematic variants of cool cream, mocha and tan, entices visually and aromatically from one of the hyperactive industrial arteries of Fyshwick. Stepping in, one is immediately confronted by the sight of the Brambati Beast, a towering monument of chrome and steel disfigured by dials, valves, gauges and all manners of technical appendages reminiscent of the Transformers and Terminator machines. This absolute stateof-the-art monster, brought in from Italy and assembled by Italian specialists is, according to the owners, the first, newest and only one in Canberra. They also claim that it has brought a whole new level of roasting and reliability of quality to the local coffee scene. It’s also enviro-friendly, producing a small carbon footprint by using recirculating air among other technological improvements. According to the operators, it allows for maximum control at every step of production. Every roast batch is individually cupped and assessed to ensure the best quality final product. Perhaps one should now ask: What or who is CosmoreX? This is where a name becomes a statement.

At this stage, retrospection and a journey back to Europe beckons all the way to the immediate post WW2 period. At the time, war-ravaged Italy, among many other countries, was in absolute chaos. The small region of Istria, trapped between Croatia, Italy and Yugoslavia, was about to be handed back to the Slovenian part of Yugoslavia. A young, pugnacious local, one Cosimo Sciannimanica, presaging even harder times ahead, availed himself of the opportunity of the resettlement programme and in 1950 ventured across the big briny divide to this hitherto dreamt of land of Australia — with it promises of a better and more stable future. As a legitimate bonded refugee he acquitted himself of the indentured status by working for two years for the New South Wales Railways. Even then, he showed entrepreneurial flair and doggedness by starting a small mixed business. As a fortuitous twist of fate would have it, a year previously in 1949, a young lady, Bruna Rinetti, had also migrated to Australia from Torino, Italy. Bruna was sponsored by her aunt, who at the time operated a Sydney boarding house. It was here the two met, and soon mandolins and accordions were waxing romance and wedding bliss for the couple. In 1963 the Sciannimanica seniors and family moved to Canberra to establish a branch of a Sydney-based coffee company in which Cosimo had a one-third ownership. In 1985, and independently of Bruna and Cosimo, son Attilo and his wife, Anne, purchased a humble Canberra-based business, then known as the Canberra

PREVIOUS PAGE The stunning Brambati coffee roaster in action RIGHT Attilio Sciannimanica with daugter Jess sample a cup

Coffee Centre; and set about planning an independent future. The CCC was Canberra’s first coffee roastery, originally starting out in 1962 with a tiny five kilogram roaster. Somewhat of a humble establishment, the business soon expanded, with Attilio and Anne not only roasting and selling coffee wholesale but also dealing in fresh sauces, gelato and pastas. In 1987, Cosimo sold his shares in the Sydney-based company to his partners and joined Attilio and Anne in the thriving Canberra Coffee Centre. Due to progressive expansion, a division of duties was deemed necessary, and the coffee wholesale and roasting section of the business moved to an industrial location in Fyshwick. The deli section continued to operate in Civic, at the heart of Canberra. The separation of the entities also required a new name for the coffee operation: hence the current name of CosmoreX. Further expansion necessitated yet another move to larger premises, especially as the Sciannamanica family started importing the range of Diadema coffee machines for retail to homes, offices and cafés. This snowballing progression eventually culminated in the recent establishment of the new current premises. Here, all manners of coffee machines, related paraphernalia, armamentaria and trinkets are well displayed for equal and full access to trade and public. There is also an onsite café to entice and tantalise, especially as the brews can be enjoyed while watching the Beast doing its thing, as viewed through

the glass partition… a true sensorial 3-D experience. All machines sold are installed and maintained by local specialists, thereby ensuring prompt and dedicated attention. The beans are purchased from brokers who specialise only in, among other products, premium estate-grown raw coffee, backed by a 100 percent guarantee of freshness and quality. According to owner/ coffee roaster Attilio, coffee is a dynamic food product that, after roasting, develops brilliant aromas and flavours, then plateaus for a period before tapering off in a natural aging process. Thankfully, with CosmoreX’s fast and efficient product delivery across the Australian Capital Territory, customers can enjoy the fresh richness of the various freshly roasted blends — delivered within the optimum time frame before the aging process even begins. Being a local company, CosmoreX is proud to be able to produce small-volume, specially roasted fresh products. This goes a long way to countering the cultural cringe and perception that suggests the best coffee should come from out-of-local-area Australian, or imported, corporate coffee brands. Attilio Sciannimanica’s credentials include member ACTA and judge, RAS Sydney Royal Fine Food Show; member AASCA and judge, Australian Barista Championships. Team Sciannimanica also conducts barista training courses, as well as running live roasting and blending demonstrations for organised groups. Attilio

and Anne’s CosmoreX has, over time, without a doubt, developed a loyal following both locally and nationally. It’s easy to fathom why this is so when you hear the passion and commitment in their voices when they talk about their family business. Sciannimanica family’s The odyssey from the post war days in Italy to its current status embodies and personifies the dogged work ethics and dedication to hard work and perseverance borne from sometimes unimaginable hardship. These experiences have driven the migrants from that period to forge and cement an invaluable and enriching foundation stone in Australia’s history. Above all, it emphatically highlights the importance of family values. At one time or another, just about all the family members have been involved in the business, including Attilio’s sister and her children, as well as Attilio and Anne’s sons, Adam and Gabriel. Their daughter, Jess, currently runs the office and organises Dad with loving vigilance. Cosimo and Bruna Sciannimanica can now proudly sit back and enjoy the welldeserved fruits of their hard years of toil, knowing that true family tenets, traditions and heritage as well as the CosmoreX reputation are in the capable hands and strong leadership of future Sciannimanica generations. 47 Kembla Street, Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory Tel. 02 6280 7511

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Stolz Furnishers

Stolz Furnishers, 70 Nunn Street, Benalla, Victoria. Tel. 03 5762 2011 Stolz Furnishers, 15 Highett Street, Mansfield, Victoria. Tel. 03 5775 2688 Stolz Sleep Zone, 56 Carrier Street, Benalla, Victoria. Tel. 03 5762 6311

Massive Big

Tojiro Flash Professional Series

katrina pizzini’s


Autumn Vegetable Lasagne recipe page 22

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‘I can say from pleasant experience that Katrina Pizzini cooks italian food as if born there. Better.’ – John Lethlean, Twitter, 14 september, 2009

Pollo Inpanato


hen I heard that Fred and Katrina Pizzini were building a new cellar door and a cooking school at Pizzini Wines in the King Valley, I knew we were in for something special. Everything this family has ever done has been with patience and precision. Add passion to that and you get perfection. Walking through the old tobacco sheds that house the current cellar door, I muse on the presence of these old buildings. Their impressive dimensions and shadowy depths speak of another world and another time. With a breezeway wide enough to drive a truck through it, these buildings are relics of the days when the Pizzini family ran the largest tobacco-growing enterprise in the Southern Hemisphere. Tobacco gave way to grapes long ago, a shift that began with the first plantings in 1978, and Pizzini Wines is now renowned for its Italian varietals, with their acclaimed nebbiolo and sangiovese considered benchmark wines. All the while, these functional buildings have continued to offer shelter — Italians are, if nothing else, resourceful. But this year they’ve been revitalised by the addition of a new cellar door, storeroom, admin area, conference room and a cooking school — all due to open mid-year. Moving through the buildings — from the old to the new — you can see in one sweep where the Pizzinis have come from and where they are heading. While the past may have been rustic, the future is looking stunning. The new cellar door rides up front, a vast room with windows framing views across the paddocks and vines. A curved deep-orange wall sweeps around one end and imposing double doors open onto a newly landscaped terrace facing the vineyard. The doors were sourced from the Trades Hall building in Melbourne and the floorboards are from the old Wangaratta Town Hall. ‘We didn’t want the cellar door to be too “brand new”, since it’s surrounded by rustic buildings, and the old timber immediately adds warmth,’ says Katrina. In the pipeline are couches and tables to encourage relaxed tasting, and an historic

display that tracks the Pizzini family’s agricultural pursuits since they first came to the King Valley from Italy in the 1950s will provide a focal point. Looking onto this room via a huge internal window is Katrina’s baby, ‘A Tavola’, a cooking school to open in July this year. ‘I didn’t want to be shut away,’ says Katrina of the window. ‘It means, too, that visitors to cellar door get to see what’s going on in the kitchen, and the students get to show off to an audience!’ This is a lovely, light-filled space: two monsters of industrial stoves are faced by a four-metre-long stainless-steel bench, under which can be found drawers and cupboards, one for each student. ‘We’ll aim for eight participants per class, but will be able to take up to 12.’ Initially A Tavola — literally ‘to the table’ — will offer two cooking classes a week: perhaps pasta, meats, desserts, or maybe working with pastry. ‘We want to offer people more than they expect to receive. We want them to take home something they can replicate. Empowering people by sharing your skills is one of the nicest things you can do for someone.’ Afternoon classes may see students prepare a three-course meal to be enjoyed as a cellar door dinner with Fred offering wine tastings. ‘I want A Tavola to encompass the boys (Fred and winemaking son Joel) as much as us’, says Katrina, adding that the wine component ‘won’t be terribly serious, more fun and casual’. Joining Katrina in the kitchen will be chef Becki Milani who has assisted the Pizzinis over a number of years during King Valley festival weekends and at Cheshunt’s Mountain View Hotel, which the family also owns. ‘Becki will bring more of a world view to our traditional Italian approach — and we both love food with a strong healthy component, so I’m looking forward to using things like pulses, which Fred hates!’, Katrina laughs. Katrina has long been famous for her cooking skills, honed after years of working alongside her mother-in-law, Rosetta. ‘Until recently Nonna was still making the bolognaise sauce for the gnocchi we serve up during our festivals. About

2,000 people come into the King Valley for each of these weekends — and we feed about half these!’ A tavola! is also the name of the cookbook Katrina self-published in 2009. A celebration of family heritage, as the blurb reads, it brings together recipes from Katrina’s childhood growing up in country Victoria and dishes from her adopted Italian family. It is a slice of modern Australia, a coming together of cultures, and is beautifully packaged with colour photographs of the dishes, family and vineyard. Rosetta’s presence is strong — that bolognaise sauce is there — and the importance of family foremost. Fred and Katrina’s four children and their partners (all involved in Pizzini Wines), their increasing gaggle of grandchildren, and the everpresent Nonna Rosetta and Nonno Roberto are all here — it is a privilege to be able to venture into their very special world. The Pizzinis are clever folk. They’ve nailed Italian varietals. They’ve selfpublished a high-quality, charming book of which a trade publisher would be proud. And now they’re about to open a new cellar door and cooking school. Hmm, I wonder what they’ll be like? Perfect, at a guess. Cellar door open seven days, 10am–5pm (new cellar door open June; functions by request). A Tavola Cooking School open from July 2010. Pizzini Vineyard B&B — self-contained cottage (sleeps 4), $150.00 per couple per night, includes breakfast hamper (dinner by request). A tavola! is available from Pizzini Wines and select bookstores. 2010 King Valley festival weekends: A Weekend Fit for a King, 12-13 June; La Dolce Vita, 20-21 November. 175 King Valley Road, King Valley, Victoria Tel. 03 5729 8278


POLLO INPANATO Serves 4 This is a favourite dish for a picnic lunch as the chicken tastes best eaten with your fingers! Try it with Pizzini Verduzzo. 1 small chicken or 12 chicken pieces 3 large eggs 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage 1 teaspoon dried tarragon ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder 2 teaspoons flaky salt 1 cup plain flour 2 cups olive oil Method If the chicken is whole, joint it as follows: using a knife or cleaver, cut through the thigh joints, then cut the legs from the thighs. Cut through the wing joints at the breast, then remove the wing tips; you may also cut through the middle joint of the wing. With the breast-side down, and using

sharp kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut lengthways next to the backbone. Cut at the sides to detach the backs and cut these into two. Cut lengthways through the centre of the breastbone, then cut each breast piece into three (or just ask your butcher to joint the chicken). Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the herbs, spices and salt. Heat the oil to medium–hot in a heavy-based frying pan (the oil needs to be 1.5–2cm deep in the pan). Coat the chicken pieces in flour, dip them into the egg mixture and gently place the chicken in the hot oil. Cook for 8 minutes or until golden brown on one side, then turn to cook a further 6 minutes. This time may vary according to the size of the chicken pieces. Take care not to have the oil too hot as the coating will burn and lose flavour. Unless you have a large-based pan you will need to cook half the chicken pieces at a time, keeping the cooked pieces warm in the oven… or the family waiting expectantly at the table. magazine spring 2009 page 21

AUTUMN VEGETABLE LASAGNE Serves 8 This is a bit of a marathon, so it is worth preparing a few parts the day before, or you may even omit the leek or eggplant. But it is well worth the effort as it is unctuous, wholesome and healthy! Serve this with Pizzini Sangiovese Shiraz. For the Napolitano sauce 2 tablespoons olive oil 20g butter 1 onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped ⅓ green chilli, seeds removed, and finely chopped 700ml tomato passata or 1kg fresh tomatoes, skinned and quartered 10 fresh or 1 teaspoon dry basil leaves 2 bay leaves 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons white sugar Juice of 1 lemon 1 cup water Salt and pepper to taste For the mushrooms 4 tablespoons olive oil 350g Swiss brown or champignon mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley ⅓ cup cream For the spinach 300g baby spinach, washed and spun dry 1 tablespoon olive oil 20g butter 1 onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

For the eggplant 1 teaspoon flaky salt 2 medium eggplants, sliced 1cm thick 2 tablespoons olive oil For the leek 2 leeks 1½ tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon flaky salt 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 cup water For the pasta 500g pasta dough, rolled to 3mm and cut into 10cm x 15cm sheets For the béchamel sauce 1 litre milk 80g butter 80g plain flour 75g grated parmesan Method To make the Napolitano sauce, heat the oil and butter in a pan and sauté the onion on moderate heat until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer 1 hour, stirring and adding more water if necessary. To cook the mushrooms, heat the olive oil in a pan and on high heat fry the mushrooms until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown. Reduce the heat and stir through the garlic and parsley, cooking until aromatic (1 minute). Lastly, add the cream, season to taste and set aside. In a pan of boiling water, wilt the spinach, drain and when cool squeeze out excess moisture. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic. Add spinach and nutmeg, season to taste and cook for

NONNA’S APPLE STRUDEL Serves 12 The more often you do it, the better you get! My variation to the pastry is to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence to the milk and to add the grated rind of 1 lemon to the flour. Serve with Pizzini Picolit. For the pastry ¾ cup milk 40g butter 2 tablespoons white sugar 2 cups self-raising flour 2 medium eggs, beaten For the filling 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced ½ cup apricot jam 6 tablespoons white sugar 100g butter ½ cup currants ½ cup sultanas Ground cinnamon Ground cloves Method To make the pastry, place the milk, butter and sugar in a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat. Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre, and add the eggs and milk, leaving a couple of tablespoons magazine autumn 2010 page 22

of milk as a basting liquid. Stir roughly until the flour mixture forms into a ball. On a floured bench, knead the dough gently; the consistency should be a little softer than pasta dough. Cover with cling film and refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Divide the pastry into thirds. Flour the bench and the rolling pin lightly and roll out the first portion of the pastry to an oval shape approximately 28cm x 26cm and 5mm thick. Spread the pastry thinly with jam to the edges. Spread ⅓ of the apples over the pastry, leaving a 2cm edge free. Sprinkle the apples with 2 tablespoons of sugar, then dot with ⅓ of the butter, ⅓ of the currants and ⅓ of the sultanas. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and ground cloves to your taste. Fold in the edges of the pastry over the apples, and gently roll the strudel from the right edge to the centre and over again. Pick up the strudel with two wide spatulas or egg flips and lay it on a baking tray. Repeat the procedure for the next 2 strudels. Baste the strudels with the leftover milk mixture and bake them in a moderate oven for 1½ hours. Baste the strudel intermittently with the buttery syrup that oozes onto the baking tray; doing this will mean you have lovely shiny, golden strudel. Serve with vanilla ice cream or rich cream.

5 minutes to incorporate the flavours and set aside. Salt the eggplant for 1 hour and then pat dry with paper towel. With a pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and fry the eggplant, a few at a time, until golden on both sides, place on absorbent paper and set aside. Rinse the leeks well, remove the tougher outer leaves and cut into 5mm x 7cm julienne. Heat the oil in a shallow pan and gently wilt the leek over low heat. Add the salt, balsamic vinegar and water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Immerse 6 pasta sheets at a time in the water for 3 minutes only. Remove and rinse quickly under cold water (so they are cool to handle), then drain. Place the sheets on a tray, each layer separated by cling film, until all sheets are cooked and the lasagne is ready to be assembled. To make the béchamel, heat the milk in a saucepan. Meanwhile, in another heavy-based saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter on a gentle heat. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Add the warmed milk, one cup at a time, into the roux, whisking briskly all the while. The mixture should be moderately thick. Turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan. To assemble the lasagne, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Spread ⅓ of the Napolitano sauce in the bottom of a deep baking dish. Top the sauce with a layer of pasta, then build the lasagne with the spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, leek and ⅓ of the Napolitano sauce, dividing each vegetable layer with a layer of pasta. Top with the remaining Napolitano sauce and, lastly, the béchamel sauce. Bake for 1¼ hours.



‘I can say from pleasant experience that Katrina Pzzini cooks italian food as if born there. Better.’ – John Lethlean, Twitter, 14 september, 2009

Katrina Pizzini and her mother in law, Rosetta


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It’s one year since the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Jimbaran Bay, Bali, underwent its rebranding as ‘Ayana Resort’. In celebration of their first birthday under this new guise, they invited Emma Westwood to inspect their sprawling premises and introduce her to a cultural-versus-hedonism itinerary, Ayana-style. WORDS EMMA WESTWOOD RESORT PHOTOGRAPHY AYANA RESORT, TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY EMMA WESTWOOD


s a friend clicks through the web pages of Ayana Resort in Jimbaran, Bali, marvelling at the exotic wonders that will soon unfold before me, she gasps at a photograph of a smiling couple enjoying breakfast on a floating tray in their swimming pool. ‘Now I lived in Dubai for three years and I thought I’d seen every possible example of opulence,’ she says. ‘But this… A floating breakfast? I’ve never seen this before.’ Then she adds. ‘I guess you couldn’t order steak.’ The name ‘Ayana’ in Sanskrit means ‘a place of refuge’ and, considering this beautiful resort is perched on top of limestone cliffs with a thundering Indian Ocean lapping at its feet, and a lush tropical gardenscape extending across 77 hectares, this is definitely a place where you can take refuge. And ‘refuge’ means, theoretically, you can even get away from even Bali itself and float away with your floating breakfast into a perfectly manicured paradise of golf buggy shuttles. But Ayana is more than just that, if you choose.

The cool, crisp whiteness of Ayana’s website sends a message of ‘contemporary Asia’, although the resort itself offers much more Balinese warmth than this corporate image communicates. Dotted throughout Ayana are statues portraying Balinese deities and traditionallyclad locals, the obligatory mini temples in which offerings for the gods are placed everyday, and even cloth-swathed effigies and sacred trees. However, this is all ‘carrot dangling’ for what can be found outside these walls. While the occasional cultural performance, usually accompanied by the soothing pling-plong sounds of gamelan, takes place poolside and in the lobby — distilled and diluted for international consumption — guests must really venture beyond the secure gates of the resort if they wish to get their hands dirty and into the nitty-gritty of a culturally-unique, Hindu Bali. In order to meet such an end, Ayana admirably offers guided tours where guests can do such activities as traverse mountains in the north of Bali and trek into

the remotest villages, or even take an eco tour into a learning centre in beachside Nusa Dusa. Warning: Outside of the protective, air-conditioned climes of Ayana Resort, such adventures can prove emotionally challenging. Despite functioning as a tourism island, poverty in Bali is as confronting as any backwater in Calcutta. As opposed to simply ‘gawking’, Ayana’s tours have been designed to support nonprofit organisations and directly contribute to ongoing environmental and development projects in the areas they choose to visit. Going cultural in Bali can also be a thing of delicate beauty, as well as harsh reality. The animistic Hinduism practiced by the Balinese weaves its way through the very fabric of the everyday in ceremonial form. With a kind of hypnotic serenity, the Balinese appease and communicate with their gods as part of a daily ritual that’s as visible to visitors as it is to locals. Everywhere you look, offering baskets made from banana leaves and stacked with the likes of flowers, rice, leaves, food, candy, cigarettes and coins are given as a symbol of heartfelt thanks to the Divine. magazine autumn 2010 page 25


A stick of smoking incense is the conduit by which these offerings are delivered to those good spirits swirling around us. Ayana pairs guests with local guides so they may experience the happenings of Bali on a quotidian basis, from traditional Balinese lodgings and family kampungs, to temples or puras (such as Uluwatu Temple) and royal palaces. If you’re lucky enough, you may come across a street ceremony and, if you’re really lucky, it could be a grandiose mass cremation procession. magazine autumn 2010 page 26

But Bali is an island of stark contrasts, and just as easily as you can see bare-breasted elderly women carrying food on their heads back to the village you can witness topless European tourists working on their golden tans. Ayana is amply equipped to take you to the upper echelons of luxury too — try, for example, the US$8,800 per night three-bedroom, ocean-front Ayana Villa. With a total of 368 rooms, 13 restaurants (including the resort’s signature Dava restaurant, the epitome of international

contemporary chic), six wedding venues (even a bridal boutique, in case you get swept up in the moment) and five swimming pools, luxury Ayana-style is something to write home about. It’s most wondrously realised through their Rock Bar and awardwinning Thermes Marin Bali Spa, as recently voted by readers of Condé Nast Traveller as ‘The Best Spa in the World’. [continued over]

Dava restaurant serves an innovative array of modern international cuisine with stunning Indian Ocean views.



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INFINITY POOL Jump on the ‘inclinator’ and you’ll travel down the cliff-face to the entrance of Rock Bar where, after the sun sinks into the horizon, flames leap up into the night sky, marking your entrance. Unashamedly open to the elements, Rock Bar is made all-the-more special because of its reliance on the mercy of Mother Nature — it simply can’t operate if the heavens open up and pelt down with one of Bali’s famous tropical downpours. But, by keeping the bar minimalist in design and as vulnerable to nature as possible means you’re also as close to the sea as anyone sipping a Cosmopolitan or glass of Moët et Chandon could possibly be. The cocktail list includes more than 40 alcoholic creations, including a selection of martinis devised by who they call ‘one of the world’s most respected martini men’, Maestro Laval Lim-Ho, who’s had the auspicious honour of mixing cocktails for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly, and James Bond film producer/ martini aficionado Albert Broccoli. With some close consideration to its environment, visiting Rock Bar is one of those experiences that makes you glad to be alive. It’s the ideal combination of manmade construction, courtesy of Japanese designer Yasuhiro Koichi (in fact, much of Ayana’s infrastructure has been made with a Japanese market in mind — 48 percent of the resort’s trade), and that which nature provides. Nothing can quite replicate the majesty of the Indian Ocean and the cliffface of age-old crystallised rocks that add to the ultimate in 360-degree interior/exterior design. Visitors to Bali are well-aware of the island’s sunsets that never fail to put a smile on one’s face at the end of each day. magazine autumn 2010 page 28

Rock Bar is the only way to experience a sunset and, consequently, feel every care in the world drop from your shoulders. And as the sun does its nightly floorshow, the shifting colours and hues give Rock Bar a changing ‘wallpaper’, which means — even if alone — you’re sure to be entertained with the visual display. Add in some of that salty sea air and your ‘refreshment’ seems to taste all the more refreshing. Continuing the ‘on the rocks’ experience is the Spa on the Rocks — what you could call ‘the jewel in the crown’ of Ayana’s Thermes Marins Bali Spa. Limited to only six couples daily, Spa on the Rocks was booked solid for my stay at Ayana Resort, so I could only look down at that bridge which leads to the little bungalow sitting on a rock in the ocean and imagine what it would be like to have diamond dust rubbed into my face while I lay prone in front of the floor-toceiling windows of my ocean vista and then float languidly in a bathtub of 500 roses as I’m fed fresh strawberries and drink chilled champagne. Sigh. What I did try, though, was the Aquatonic Pool at Thermes Marins Bali Spa, which proved quite the eye-opening experience. To look at the Aquatonic Pool is nothing spectacular. Those already bobbing up and down in its whirlpools had expressions on their faces like docile Hindu cows, which gave little away of the volcanic motions going on underneath the water’s surface. They tell me it takes two hours to work your way through the whole of the Thalasso routine. I scoff. It turns out, I take two hours and 15 minutes to complete it. On stepping into the Aquatonic Pool, the instructors tell you to walk against the current without holding onto

the guardrails. In my jet-lagged state, I felt like a desperate salmon heading upstream, although the promise of burning calories and potentially losing up to two kilos in weight steeled my resolve. After then swimming against the current, I moved through a series of 12 hydro massage stations, which sent my cellulite into a wobbly dance and caused my skin to burn with itchiness. ‘This is good,’ said the attendant — the skin itching indicating my circulatory system had amped up into maximum overdrive. I seemed to be heading towards the end of the circuit when I moved under water-fountains that felt like cannon balls shot into my computer-hardened shoulders. This was kind of excruciating, but in a good way. It might not sound like the Aquatonic Pool is blissful, but, hell, it was blissful. I emerged with legs (and skin) that had turned into marshmallow. I was now human play-doh for my massage therapist who would kneed me into a catatonic pulp. One thing is for sure, Bali is a fickle lover. Anyone holidaying in sunny, downtown Kuta would think she’s merely a whore, offering little more than ‘Arak Attack’ happy hours and wet t-shirt competitions. But she can be five-star class all the way or even shyly reveal her village humility, as an experience with the Ayana Resort so pertinently illustrates. My suggestion to you is listen carefully to Bali, and you’ll hear her whisper seductively (in Bahasa, of course) into your ear, ‘What do you want me to be?’ The choice is all yours. Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali Tel. +62 361 702 222

DAILY DREAMING Body Treatments at Thermes Marins Bali Spa SPA ON THE ROCKS

AYANA VILLA Emma under the rainfall shower

magazine autumn 2010 page 29




o walk inside the home of artist Asher Bilu and his wife, Luba, is the stuff of considerable wonder. Known for large works of abstraction, Asher’s authentic Victorian Brighton abode acts as an informal survey of his creations, ranging right through from his very first painting in 1958, which hangs on the wall of the front study. It’s hard to know which way to turn when entering the Bilu home. An Alice in Wonderland chequerboard floor spreads out before you, while overhead, paint chandeliers reach out like multicoloured jellyfish tentacles. Accustomed to the space — or lack thereof — Luba points out curios here and there, like a magnificent oversized necklace (now framed) by an artist named Horse that she claims she only wore once to the official opening of the Victorian Arts Centre. And then there’s the engrossing golden display, like a solar system of planets and stars, hanging from the ceiling of their lounge room. It’s hard to believe this beautiful survey of the constellations serves as a secret, permanent and dazzling fixture suspended overhead, that is one of the central features of the artist’s home.

Even the kitchen has fallen victim to encroaching artwork. Decorating the walls and surfaces are tiny Japanese tiles, which Asher collected and then constructed into sheets like wallpaper (holes for power points, etc, accommodated) so they could be attached to the walls swiftly as a surprise for Luba when she went to work one day. ‘Luckily, I liked it,’ says Luba of the colourful display that greeted her on her return. Emerging from an aural cocoon of traditional Indian music, Asher ventures inside from the immense two studio workspaces he’s established alongside the house. ‘We add, we don’t change,’ Asher says of their interior designing approach, now ready for his 11am coffee and cookie break. ‘There’s never been a case when I thought, “I can’t live with that, get rid of it”.’ Luba indicates a silver tray that’s filling a space lower on the wall. ‘There was nothing there before but, once it goes there, to take it away it looks empty. You can always find another space on some wall. Somewhere.’

As if looking for that elusive spare spot, Asher peers under a sideboard where an old rice sieve hangs. He jokes, ‘It’s a beautiful thing from China… It comes from a very interesting part of China called “Bendigo”.’ ‘We bought it in Bendigo,’ Luba clarifies Asher’s humour. ‘We thought it would make a great fly cover for the food at barbecues.’ After a chuckle, the conversation turns to more serious matters. So, how do the artistic processes unfold for Asher? ‘I don’t work nine to five,’ he remarks. ‘It depends on what I’m doing. Basically, when I work, I’m full on. I just work from morning to night, have a break then either go back to work or play my music. It’s not a compulsive thing. It’s just where it takes you. I just do what needs to be done.’ ‘Sometimes it’s more inspiring than other times. Right now, I’m working on a big thing so it’s wonderful to get up in the morning. The beginning is always interesting — the burgeoning of an idea. It’s like falling in love — it’s difficult in the beginning, then there’s a fun part and sometimes there are mistakes. I’ve divorced a few paintings. [continued over] magazine autumn 2010 page 31

[from page 31] It doesn’t happen often but you’ve got to acknowledge the fact there can be failures. I’m not compulsive but I’m possessed when I’m working. ‘My favourite story about work processes comes from an interview given by an American painter called Larry Rivers — a pop artist,’ recalls Asher. ‘They asked him to describe a day in his working life and he said, “Well, I get up in the morning, eat breakfast with my family, read the papers, and then I catch the train or the bus or whatever and go to my studio, then I open the door, hop into bed and go to sleep.” This is wonderful because a lot of people think you arrive at your studio and then you just start. No, let’s go to sleep… let’s have a dream.’ He continues, ‘I think the artistic process on the whole is absolutely fascinating. I wouldn’t change it for anything. The feeling of creating — giving birth to something new — is really very rewarding in every way. You’re contributing something, you’re creating something, you’re living something… and when it works, it’s fantastic. It’s one of the most exciting things about being an artist.’ For Asher, his domestic space is the core of his inspiration. ‘Once I visited a house in Los Angeles designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The people who lived there were the original people who had commissioned the house. They were old at the time, and the house looked like they had lived in there for many years. It had all the signs of the times — Picasso drawings on the walls, sculptures… everything looked worn out and lived in…’ Luba offers a word: ‘patina’d’. ‘The people and the house had evolved together,’ Asher continues. ‘It was wonderful. That sort of age… like a good wine… what time does… You can’t create this (he gestures around the house) in a hurry.’ ‘There’s a culture of replacing today,’ remarks Luba. ‘Nothing is made to last. Something wears and you immediately magazine autumn 2010 page 32

replace it with something new.’ continues: ‘Time is Asher fascinating, what it does. In art direction, you try to create this sort of thing, which you can do up to a point. Everywhere I look here (in this house), there are things from one of our journeys… and memories…’ He grabs a lump of whitish stone from the side table. ‘This was from Death Valley. We picked this up because we thought it looked like a car but it comes from Death Valley. This stone was lying for thousands of millions of years baking in the sun… and now it’s living in Brighton. How would you know that this rock would end up in Brighton?’ Asher tips a jar of various stones and rocks on the table and his excitement noticeably rises. ‘These are Aboriginal flints,’ he says. ‘They’ve been carved. This is the head of a spear. This is thousands of years old. Look at this beautiful piece of carving. To do that, you really have to be skilled. The spear itself was about four metres long.’ Try coercing Asher into naming a favourite part of his house and he draws a blank. Luba doesn’t hesitate to pinpoint her bed… with the electric blanket. But seriously… ‘This house is a rather unusual house on the main street… and the gates, everyone recognises them,’ explains Luba. ‘A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call saying, “Have you lost your mobile phone?” My mother who lives with us, she’d dropped it. And we all know that everyone has ‘home’ on their phone, so they rang it, and home was here. A guy came to drop it off and he said, “Oh, I’ve always wondered who lived here and what it’s like behind that fence.” The locals feel that way about our place. They can see the things that stick up over the fence and the decorated gates…’ Asher cuts in: ‘One time, we went out and there was a wedding party outside our gates taking photographs. Apparently, the photographer has been bringing brides here

all the time. He should give us a commission for the first night or something.’ For Asher and Luba, travel to farflung places is an integral factor of their life together. Asher’s interest and formidable skills in playing the Indian instrument known as ‘sarod’ have made India a repeat destination for the Bilus. ‘Travel is another form of work. I work all the time… my eyes, my mind,’ says Asher. ‘I don’t take photographs or do drawings. I absorb. It all goes into the computer (he taps his head) and whatever comes out after it’s been processed… fine. That’s it. ‘I’m working now on a series of paintings. This idea I’ve had for years, but somehow, it was lingering in my mind and I thought, “I’ll do it some day.” And then, all of a sudden, without planning or anything like that, it just went “bang” in a big way and I did it. ‘You store these kinds of things and they come out and it’s wonderful,’ Asher concludes. ‘I’ve thought before that I should write down an idea, but then I think, “No, if it’s going to be good it’s going to stick and, if I’m going to forget it, let it go.” Occasionally, wonderful thoughts just go away. I really should write them down but…’ Given the plethora of artistic creation that fills Asher’s physical reality, we can only assume some of those ideas he’s failed to write down have managed to stick and, consequently, germinate. In terms of finding space to hang new pieces in this homebased ‘gallery’… well, that’s another issue. ‘You’re looking at 33 years here… This is what happens and it doesn’t happen overnight,’ admits Asher, kind of in awe himself. Despite his talent for producing individual pieces, one look around the home he’s built with Luba — and the many photos of the Bilu family lining shelves, bookcases and battling for attention on the walls — and it’s clear this sum of parts is his greatest creation of all.

ART HOUSE Inside the Brighton home of abstractionist and national treasure Asher Bilu magazine autumn 2010 page 33

Asher Bilu Space Time GP3, 2008 enamel and pigment on board, 244 x 366 cm

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Asher Bilu Space Time ON3, 2008 enamel and pigment on board, 244 x 366 cm

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Adventurous Hearts 2008 Girls Block

Caterina, Allegra and Arabella Miranda

C a b er n e t S av i g n on Pe ti t Ver d o t

Girls Block’ (the vineyard), as it’s affectionately known, and the girls, aka lady vignerons (pictured from left to right): Caterina, Allegra and Arabella Miranda make up a fine group of young cabernet cultivators and wine creators. With father Sam in toe, and with a flutter of the eyelashes, this princess-proactive team has managed to champion a striking new release wine this year. Cool wine, cool architecture, cool kids.

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Cellar Door

Open. 10am - 5pm, daily Snow Road, Oxley, Victoria. Tel: 03 5727 3888

Closed throughout the month of August.

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Divine country lanes, lush vineyards, scented olive groves and a wealth of passionate, artisan producers is what you’ll discover in this magical part of Victoria. WORDS KRYSTEN MANUEL AND JAMIE DURRANT PHOTOGRAPHY JAMIE DURRANT EV OLIVES Model (and EV Olives shop manager),Cara. Dress by Maple May (Boutique), Wangaratta, Victoria.



Fact: Boutique Australian olive oils are well documented as being of the highest quality in the world. Fact: Europeans name our olive oils ‘new world oils’, as they are harvested at premium fruit ripeness and pressed immediately after harvesting. Fact: This retains polyphenols (natural antioxidants) — therefore Australian boutique oils are also among the healthiest in the world. Yes, Eberhard Kunze and Maureen Titcumb’s humble little shop, EV Olives, nestled behind the silvery olive trees on Everton Road, Markwood, is quite a find for any culinary-obsessed food entertainer who craves the utmost in quality. The Extra Virgin ‘Robust’ has taken two golds and an award for best in class at the National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Show across 2007 and 2009. Its intense, fresh, herbaceous, salad leaf aroma, artichoke flavor with well balanced bitterness and pungency have seen it described as an ‘interesting and vibrant oil’. The Extra Virgin ‘Fruity’ also won a bronze medal in 2007 and a silver in 2009 for its grassy and floral character with moderate fruit intensity and balanced moderate pungency.  EV Olives also offers a range of other high-quality products that will send your tastebuds into a salivating frenzy, including an extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette, coriander and chilli stir fry oil, oregano and garlic bread-dipping oil, amazing plain and Cajun dukkah, tapenades and both a lemon and lime agrumato. The argumatos are striking, to say the least, made by crushing fresh citrus zest with olives at the time of pressing, capturing the full freshness of the citrus oil and imparting a richness of flavour that holds even after heating. Take a trip to EV Olives and remember, the secret to a good dish begins with quality ingredients — and with these products, the quality is at its best. Open 10am-5pm daily 203 Everton Road, Markwood, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 0209




Evans Lane is about a minute’s drive off the Snow Road at Oxley. Here you’ll find the Ciavarella family’s boutique winery and cellar door, Ciavarella Oxley Estate — a true gem of the gourmet region, offering some of Australia’s most intriguing and beautifully handcrafted wines. Take a sip and enjoy a guided wine tasting through the vintages, pressing by pressing, barrel by barrel, by winemaker and all-round terrific bloke, Tony Ciavarella. Known for their famous and extremely rare aucerot plantings, the family’s Evans Lane vineyard is also the producer of the Estate’s multi award-winning chardonnay and new-release 2006 Evans Lane merlot-shiraz-cabernet red blend, a beautifully rich and easy drinking drop. Also recently released is the highly sought-after 2009 viognier, a well-balanced and extremely floral, smart wine. Having migrated from the Italian province Puglia to Australia in the 1920s, the Ciavarella family is proud to release the 2008 zinfandel, a varietal which under its pseudonym ‘primitivo’ also has its origins in the Puglia region. Whether you have a taste for a big red, the French classics, a white port, or something sweeter, Ciavarella Oxley Estate has a wine for you. As the Ciavarellas say, ‘Whatever your taste, all that matters is that you drink the wines you love.’ Take a closer look — Essentials knows you’ll be impressed.


17 Evans Lane, Oxley, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3384

5 MOUNT PLEASANT LUXURY ACCOMMODATION Tucked up a country lane, a mere stone’s throw from the Great Alpine Road/Hume Freeway exit, is Mount Pleasant Luxury Accommodation. The recently refurbished, self-contained homestead which sits amongst one acre of garden, oozes ‘look at me’ opulence with its beautifully appointed designer touches. Owner Ruth Amery effortlessly executes divine interiors, appropriating classic English olde worlde charm with daring, modern extravagance. Vintage chairs are reupholstered with bright fabrics; ‘60s Danish-modern teak sideboard and coffee table display form and functionality, a twinkling crystal chandelier is elegant; while its ‘city-slick’ black

alternate brother peers down upon gently-folded antique bentwood dining chairs. Mount Pleasant is a true ‘couples’ retreat’, specifically designed for four persons with two queen suites that are cosy and calm. All the mod-cons, such as LCD TV, surround sound system, modern kitchen, coffee machine with café style grinder, BBQ facilities and more, confirm Mount Pleasant as the perfect place for adventurous couples looking for that secret seductive escape. 181 Wightons Road, East Wangaratta, Victoria Tel. 03 5722 2616 magazine autumn 2010 page 39




If you’re looking to sit, relax and taste your way through the Milawa Gourmet Region in one convenient location, then country house-hotel Lindenwarrah’s Restaurant Merlot is a perfect fit. Tucked peacefully alongside an attractive vineyard, with expansive glass panel dining room views, chef Chris Connors has created a no-fuss, beautifully presented provincial menu highlighting the best of the region. Expect to dip brilliant baby sourdough rolls into creamy EV Olives robust extra virgin oil and homemade dukkah; shortly followed by a decadent sip of premium inhouse Mornington Peninsula pinot noir produced at sister property Lindenderry. Without attempting to over-plate or over-engineer the beautiful, clean local produce, Chris’s dishes are detailed, extremely well-balanced and smartly presented. Everything is carefully selected with a view to supporting the local producers: think farm-reared succulent lamb, the best selection of Milawa cheeses, fresh and delicate zucchini flowers, kitchen garden herbs, Milawa mustards and condiments — the list goes on. With Brown Brothers’  fly-in airstrip a mere yardstick dash from the hotel there’s no excuse — fly, drive or cycle your way into town for this must-visit slice of Milawa’s foodie action. Open for lunch Fri-Sun from 12-3pm, dinner Thur-Sun from 6.30pm Restaurant Merlot at Lindenwarrah Country House Hotel 223 Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road, Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5720 5777



The best things in life often come in small packages. Take for example Milawa’s tiny vineyard and winery, Rose Hill Estate. Despite its humble size, Rose Hill has captured the imagination of reviewers from Winestate Magazine, who have described their 2006 merlot as a ‘lovely rich, warm and friendly wine that smells of sweet plums and has a delightfully soft palate loaded with delicious, earthy flavours’.  A two-person enterprise operated by vigneron Kevin de Henin and partner/winemaker Jo Hale, Rose Hill produces complex premium reds including the award-winning merlot and an intriguingly fragrant and smoothly-textured durif. Essentials highly recommends a visit to the cellar door, where you can plonk yourself on a soft leather bar stool, talk with the winemaker and taste your way through the lavishly-large reds and beautiful 2006 sparkling merlot, produced méthode champenoise. This beautifully decadent sparkling wine highlights the site’s ability to produce wonderfully deep-flavoured, yet clean fruit, displaying classy, distinctive savoury complexities. With a lively mouthfeel and divine fine beads dancing on the palate, we’re betting you’ll return again for another sip (or case) of this sexy little package of bubbles. Love it! Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, otherwise by appointment 14000 Oxley Flats Road, Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3930

FARM FRESH FOR THE FUSSIEST Situated on the Snow Road, within the rustic mudbrick Olive Shop retail complex, sits a humble country eatery featuring a particularly inviting and colourful menu suited to the fussiest of dietary requirements. The Milawa Bakery Café breezes through vegetarian, regular and gluten-free menus, boasting garden-fresh soups and salads, delicious gluten-free lemon meringue pies and almond fingers and the best in handmade pies, all designed with an inspiring ‘paddock-to-plate’ philosophy in mind; and in action. Diane and Tony Coder Fischer’s farm at Myrrhee, King Valley is the Bakery’s sole source for Angus beef, Damara lamb, plump ripe tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, pumpkin, rockmelon and fragrant herbs such as mint, basil, dill, coriander and chives. This Essentials reporter happily sat among the magazine autumn 2010 page 40


olive trees and autumn leaves to sample a light and tasty vegetarian frittata, served with a health-giving, super-refreshing garden salad. In the cooler months, an Irish stew served in a cob loaf, a plate of pasta or an Angus beef pie might tickle your fancy. Thinking gluten free? Why not try a lemon or caramel slice — guilt-free; well almost! The familiar, alluring aroma of coffee is expertly made by the bakery’s trained barista, Coby; just the thing to sip while drinking in the wide horizon, cottage gardens and peaceful oak tree views.   Snow Road, Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3619


RESTAURANT MERLOT Highlighting the best of the regionÂ

THE OLIVE SHOP Farm-fresh produce



The first step through the door of Milawa’s now iconic Olive Shop brings with it a feast for the eyes and palate, with a treasure-trove of all things olive, arty and edible to sample and explore. Attention is immediately drawn to the redgum tasting counter, laden with this season’s fresh oils, condiments, dukkahs and table olives. Taste your way through premium-quality oils such as frantoio, corregiola and store owner Robyn Barrow’s very own fresh and luscious Barrow Premium Oil. Every wall of this beautifully-presented olive provender is jam-packed with shelves displaying items such as handmade ceramics by local Andrew Cope, olive and lavender oil skincare and soaps, cookbooks, handpainted tiles, condiments and of course the richest selection of olives and olive oils imaginable. Part of the joy in visiting the Olive Shop is its divinely conceived smattering of real farm-fresh product on show. The feel is energetically provincial and soon begs the question: ‘Are we in provincial Victoria or somewhere in the South of France?’ It’s a nice little mind trick! At the front of the store you’ll discover the tiny, yet neat Art Space Gallery. Featuring local artists, printmakers and photographers with exhibitions changing monthly, this is an ideal place to pick up a quality work; one that you’ll happily live with and enjoy for years to come. Although you could easily spend a day tasting, admiring and discovering in The Olive Shop, don’t forget to visit the Milawa Bakery Café and Chrismont Wines cellar door alongside this olive-haven.   Open 10am-5pm daily Snow Road, Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3887



Although she’s locally known as ‘Mother Mustard’ (the creative passion and driving force behind Milawa Mustards) Anna Bienvenu is also an accomplished photographer with an eye for the Australian bush. Currently on show at Anna Bienvenu’s Photographic Gallery (located within the Old Emu Inn at the Milawa Crossroads), is a retrospective of Anna’s past seven years of artistry, including locations photographed such as the bushfire-ravaged alpine forests of Mount Buffalo National Park (depicted in among fresh winter snowfall cover), sand dune shapes and textures at Lake Mungo National Park, as well as other rural scenes closer to home. Tea Garden Creek, Oxley Flats is one of these. It was taken at one of the few remaining original farms near Milawa (where Anna grew up), and depicts the deep, wavering reflections of a creek. After 10 years of drought, the creek completely dried up, taking all life with it including the European Carp. Once the water returned, it was crystal-clear and created amazingly vivid reflections not seen for many years. Each photograph in this exhibition is a limited edition with only seven printed, numbered and signed, so don’t miss a chance to capture these delicately-crafted, bewitching moments of natural Australian beauty.


THE COLOUR PURPLE 5 After visiting Ballingarry Lavender, it’s likely you’ll leave breathing deep, trying to savour the last of that sweet, fragrant aroma from the soft purple fields of delicate, full flowers. A unique opportunity awaits for lucky patrons to ‘wake up and smell the lavender’, as Ballingarry also offers a farm-stay federation-style bed and breakfast, allowing you to carefully explore the fragrant fields, nursery and onsite shop selling everything from moisturisers and shampoos, to talcum powders and potpourri. With the perfect Mediterranean climate — warm in summer, rain when required and Alpinefresh, pure air — this little patch of provincial terroir supports a range of lavender varieties, including lavendula augustafolia, lavendin and stoechas. Operators Geoff and Karen Finnigan are designers

Open daily 10am-5pm The Crossroads, Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3202 of premium lavender essential oil products, and are particularly proud of their unique foot balm that offers near-miracle healing properties — a welcome relief for the most stubborn of arthritic complaints. In this tiny piece of provincial Victoria, Geoff and Karen’s hideaway among the lavender blooms is certainly a great little find. Visit to treat your feet, munch on handmade lavender chocolates, shop or calmly sink your body and mind into the couple’s retreat spa, the choice is yours. The colour purple has never looked so appealing. 20 Nankervis Lane, Oxley, Victoria  Tel. 03 5727 3935

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It’s always exciting to see a next-generation wine producer take over the family vintage duties and produce even more delicate, expressively complex and exciting products. At John Gehrig Wines in Oxley, Ross Gehrig, fifth generation winemaker of Victoria’s oldest winemaking family, has badged his own riesling ‘RG’: a wine showing Ross’ personal expression of how superpremium King Valley riesling can be grown and produced. As you might have guessed, this young-gun winemaker knows his vineyard like the back of his hand. Situated on the banks of the King River, the vineyard occupies a unique site for the Milawa Gourmet Region, enabling impressive fruit to be grown and harvested. Here, closer to the water’s edge, the riesling vines enjoy cooler pockets of airflow and therefore a slower, more complex ripening process. This unique microclimate allows Ross to select the right fruit to produce his exceedingly detailed, flinty Alsatian-style riesling. While working vintage in Alsace, France, Ross was continually told that he would never make a wine as classy and as perfected as the French version from his home property: ‘the fruit quality and soil simply cannot compete,’ he was told. With the release of the 2005 RG Riesling, Essentials can confidently confirm Ross’ wine as equal to, if not displaying even more elegant characteristics than many of it’s OS counterparts. This wine really is a star of our local industry and must be sampled.   John Gehrig Wines is also known for a wide range of premium sparkling wines including the standout Cremant de Gamay. With its typically intriguing purple-pink colour, this rare sparkling is medium-bodied with an earthy, round mouthfeel and flavours of sour cherries, black pepper and raisined blackcurrant. Passionate, intelligent, experienced and respected; Ross Gehrig is new-world wine name to remember.   Open 7 days, Sunday 10am-5pm 80 Gehrigs Lane, Oxley, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3395



A feature article on the Milawa Gourmet Region simply would not be complete without including the ‘grand daddy’ Milawa foodie institution that is the epic Milawa Cheese Company. Since its inception in 1988, founders Anne and David Brown have continued production of some of Australia’s most celebrated cheeses, including the beautifully creamy and punchy Milawa Blue and the gloriously smelly washed-rind Milawa Gold — the first of its kind to be commercially produced in Australia. These days, you’ll enjoy a huge range of cheeses to taste your way through: these include the Milawa Ceridwen (ker-id-wen), a Loire Valley-style fresh goats’ chèvre with vine ash and white mould, the hard goats’ cheese Milawa Capricornia, 2008 and 2009 gold medal winner at the ASCA Brisbane Show, and the buttery and dreamily textured Milawa Brie. For those who are yet to visit the cheese factory complex, you’ll be pleased to learn of additional onsite businesses Wood Park Wines, Milawa Chocolates, onsite bakery and the Muse Gallery. An easy place to visit and a hard one to leave. Open 7 days, cheese tastings 9am-5pm  Factory Road, Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3589

SETTLE AT SETTLER’S It doesn’t get much better than waking up snuggled deep in a comfortable, luxurious bed, peering out through your own private patio to an endless vineyard stretching out to the morning horizon, contemplating when to welcome relaxing droplets from the huge waterfall shower. This is the blissful morning enjoyed by guests at Settlers Boutique Accommodation in Oxley. Privacy is well respected here. Each of the three cottages has a private entrance with undercover parking for guests’ vehicles. A warm, personalized feel in each of the foyers leads through to spacious and relaxed living areas. Hosts Helen and John have lovingly decorated each apartment in separate magazine autumn 2010 page 44


styles: Classic English, bright and youthful or a more modern and functional style, perfect for couples, friends or families. You may wedge yourself into the smooth leather of a chesterfield couch, ready to relax in front of the LCD screen, spend time admiring the various original artworks displayed throughout, or perhaps entertain on the front patio. Helen has truly endeavoured to make each cottage a unique and warm environment making the experience for guests as relaxing and personal as possible. Shadforth Street, Oxley, Victoria Tel. 0429 771 574


2 YOUNG GUN Winemkaer Ross Gehrig

CHRISMONT WINES CELLAR DOOR Within the Oliveshop/Milawa Bakery Café complex



Occupying the corner site of the Olive Shop and the Milawa Bakery Café complex on the Snow Road, this, Chrismont Wines’s more urban cellar door, gleams with shiny white benchtops and artfully designed shelving. The full range of Chrismont wines, produced by Chrismont’s long-standing dynamic winemaker, Warren Proft, is ready for tasting upon your arrival. The ‘core’ wines — riesling, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz — are offered under the Chrismont label, while Mediterranean varietals appear under the La Zona brand. Here you’ll find savagnin, arneis, pinot grigio, barbera, marzemino and sangiovese, as well as a Super-Tuscan blend of sangiovese-cabernet and the Rosato Mezzanotte (a rosé blend of sangiovese, marzemino and barbera). This winter, new releases include the stunning La Zona Barbera and La Zona Sangiovese; a must try/buy for anybody looking for the region’s most detailed and expressive Italian wine varietals. Also on tasting is the every popular La Zona Marzemino Frizzante and two newcomers, a beautifully balanced and slightly spritzy moscato and a fragolino. A Chrismont cellar door in Milawa?  Not just a convenience, it’s a blessing! Open 10am-4pm Mon-Wed, 10am-5pm Thurs-Sun Shop 1, 1605 Glenrowan-Myrtleford Road (Snow Road), Milawa, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 3982 (office 03 5729 8220)




In terms of winery cellar doors, it’s particularly hard to miss the grey timber light tower rising above the grassy knolls that centrally focus the eye towards Sam Miranda’s King Valley, Snow Road vineyard. What you might not be aware of, however, is the name of this ‘front paddock’, and the lady vignerons who tend to this huge plot from pruning to plunging — that is, of course, if that pesky homework doesn’t get in the way! ‘Girls’ Block’, as it’s affectionately known, and the girls — (pictured above, from left to right) Caterina, Allegra and Arabella — make up a fine group of young cabernet cultivators and wine creators. With father Sam in toe, and with a flutter of the eyelashes, this princessproactive team has managed to champion a striking new release wine this year, and one that’s also well worth racking up in the cellar. Blended with a fragrant touch of petit verdot fruit, the 2008 Girls’ Block Cabernet is almost as sweet as its creators. And with firm tannins and rich, ripe berry fruit, it’ll likely last the distance at least until Caterina’s 18th birthday celebrations. Cool architecture, a cool tastings’ bar fit-out and many easydrinking Italian and classic varietal wines are also a fine match to chef Richard Verrocchio’s Mediterranean share-plate delights within the cellar door complex. An outstanding antipasti selection including cured meats, roasted beetroot with toasted walnuts, blue cheese and tarragon are just a small selection of bites that are perfectly matched to Sam Miranda’s new-release 2009 Prosecco and divine cherry-pink 2009 Sangiovese Rosata. Bellissimo! Snow Road, Oxley, Victoria Tel. 1800 994 750

5 BEHIND THE COTTONWOODS ‘An unexpected piece of paradise’ is one guest’s glowing experience of Cottonwoods Accommodation in Milawa, where every last detail is of the highest quality, from devilishly comfortable recliners and crisp Sheridan sheets, to home baked breads and gourmet breakfast provisions; all delivered with the hospitality Cottonwoods pride themselves on. Peeping out from behind the heart-shaped, golden, cottonwood tree leaves is Jennie and Sam Bussell’s two-suite haven for shamelessly indulgent couples. The Bordeaux and Jura suites are both named after French wine regions that Jennie and Sam hold close to their hearts. Give your body and mind an early Christmas and snuggle into a fluffy robe and slippers, curl up on either the ever-comfortable latex queen ensemble bed or the soft leather recliners and embrace the large

‘swivel where you wish’ LCD screen viewing experience. Guests visiting Cottonwoods are lavished with Jennie’s homemade chocolates, muffins, fresh-baked breads and preserves, a drop-off pick-up service (your own personal chauffeur), a display of fresh flowers including Delbard French roses, complimentary Brown Brothers wine and a contemporary DVD collection. Essentials is confident that your first visit to Cottonwoods will not be your last. Many returning guests are invited to dine with Jennie and Sam on woodfired pizza, just like old friends – true country hospitality. 2139 Glenrowan–Myrtleford Road (Snow Road), Markwood, Victoria Tel. 03 57 270 345 or 0427 295516 magazine autumn 2010 page 47

magazine autumn 2010 page 48

eden road wines





n astute person once decreed that wine, women and song are the three vital ingredients for enjoyment. The legendary Acca Dacca thundered that ‘it’s a long way to the top’, and Bobby Scott and Bob Russell lamented that ‘it’s a long, long road, with many a winding turn’. You may well wonder where this is all heading and its relevance to a wine article... stay with me. In typical Yin-Yang, pre-determined circumstance, a winery centrally located in Canberra was heading down a moribund path, and this allowed the company Elvin Group (Global) the opportunity to acquire it and its associated vineyards. A Lazaruslike reanimation was performed and the new venture resuscitated into an expanded dynamic state-of-the-art concern, capable of processing 2000 tonnes but currently producing 1500 to maximise quality and efficiency. The Elvin Group then leased the winemaking business to the Eden Road Wines Company, which, with fortuitous foresight, appointed young gun chief winemaker Nick Spencer to head the production team with the capable assistance of Hamish Young. This dynamic duo immediately imbued the business with ability, enthusiasm and an ethos of dedication that has seen the brand quickly establish itself as a credible player at the highest level.

Nick, with his local background and schooling at Canberra Grammar, brings a positive parochial touch in his approach to the wines. An admitted strong penchant for food as well as wine broadens his attitude and perspective as a winemaker. Fully cognisant of the local food scene, especially as some of his old friends currently run some of the more recognised restaurants, Nick’s discerning palate allows him to finetune his wines with food synergy solidly in mind. Underpinning his appointment as chief winemaker, Nick brings with him previous experience in Australia and overseas, including his time at Rosemount and in the Southern Highlands — thus his appreciation and understanding of handling fruit from cool climate areas.  While Nick’s heart floats around the Utopian ideal of perfection, his eyes are wide open and his feet firmly grounded in the reality of the toils and tasks ahead. Acutely aware of the multiple lumps, bumps and twists that will inevitably throw obstacles in his yellow-brick path towards the nexus of wine achievement, he is nonetheless fully focused on the pot of gold. Permit me a spot of levity, but in keeping with the wine and music stream, I can almost hear Judy wailing that ‘somewhere over the rainbow’, etc. In Nick’s case, the twee cliché that  ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with a small step’

was turned on its head and became a turbocharged punt kick by the awarding of the always highly sought-after Jimmy Watson Trophy to his Long Road Hilltop Shiraz ‘08.   ‘The words ‘journey’ and ‘road’ — what’s the contextual relevance?’, I hear you asking. Please indulge my explanation. Nick’s philosophy is to embark on a long road to winemaking perfection, ergo a long road towards Eden, hence the ‘Long Road’  label and the ‘Eden Road’ premium label. Anecdotally, the word ‘Canberra’, loosely translated from its Aboriginal origins, apparently means a ‘meeting place’. Hence the introduction of a range of wines under this ‘Meeting Place’ entry-point label as a relaxed way of bringing growers, winemakers and wine drinkers together. The Meeting Place label also represents perhaps Nick’s first steps along his road to ideal winemaking. This range features wines currently sourced exclusively from the Elvin Group’s Canberra vineyards. They are realistically priced and well-assembled wines to be enjoyed now.   Wines under the Long Road labels are made from grapes sourced mainly from the Hilltops region (Young and surrounds), Tumbarumba and the ACT district. This accessibility to cool-climate grapes allows winemaking latitude and flexibility to source from the best regional fruit available at each vintage. magazine autumn 2010 page 49

NEY ng at Torrens

The Eden Road-labelled wines are only made from the pick of the grapes available in best vintages, symbolising the concept of the nexus of what can be achieved from the best of those particular years. Now, I hear collective groans from the highly discerning readers of this illustrious publication. Okay! Enough already of the diatribe about journeys, aspirations, heavenly roads and philosophising. After all, the punters who are considering forking out between 12 to 30 dollars for a bottle of these cool-climate regional wines — be it on their way to dinner, to impress or to preciously cellar — want to know what these fermented grape products taste like and what they have to offer as a preferential discerning factor. The Meeting Place label, true to its Aboriginal connotations features a rectangle of golden dots against a white background. Uncluttered, catchy and effective, as is the wine contained within… lively, vivaciously varietal and solid. Very gluggable and definitely moreish. Taking minimalism to a higher level is the Long Road label. These wines represent the intermediate step on the track and are very competitively priced and readily available in the retail mid-range price market. They provide over-the-odds quality, generosity of flavour and fullness. This was exemplified by the above-mentioned Long Road Shiraz Jimmy Watson Trophy winner. Other wines under that label include a pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, an obligatory sauvignon blanc (At least it’s Australian! Ed.), a cabernet sauvignon and an intriguing barbera-nebbiolo blend. Here I must confess to a hesitant approach to Australian chardonnays after

Hamish Young (left) with Nick Spencer

having, in my days of judging and assessing, been repeatedly assailed by the buxomly enhanced fruity and oaky products of the past. However, my trepidations very quickly gave way to a smile of appreciation for this rather chablis-style sharply defined varietal regional wine. With its cool-climate underlying citrus tones, it is a refreshing and indulgently satisfying wine, which fairly teases and then dances across the palate. My first bottle did not even make it to the dinner table — must have been the high evaporation rate in the kitchen! The Eden Road label epitomises the company’s philosophy, with its symbolic illustration of the ‘tree of life’ bisected by the representation of a road. Once again, classy and effectively striking. Only available at cellar door and on-premises, the four wines in this range include a Tumbarumba chardonnay and pinot noir, a Canberra shiraz and riesling. ‘Over delivery’ is an often-used marketing term in wine parlance, but this range actually does that and more. While the Long Road chardonnay delivered immediate enjoyment as described above, the Eden Road bigger brother deserves thoughtful appreciation. The sweet sound of the tortured scream of a twisted screw cap, soon followed by a waft of lifted French oak and perfumed fruit sent my sensory buds into full-on anticipatory salivating mode. After a swish around in the glass and a snortful, citrus, white peach, vanilla aromas all initially jostled and vied for my attention. By now  my salivary glands had turned into a veritable Pavlovian-style Niagara Falls of drool. Brioche, lightly browned vanilla caramel, nuttiness and a definite lift of citrus and even a hint of quince, all underpinned by solid and well-handled chardonnay fruit in an homage to the current tenet of minimalist intervention. The Eden Road Wine Company with Nick Spencer solidly at the helm is steering a definite course along a path of continued success towards their concept of Eden. Meanwhile, all three labels under Nick’s craftsmanship will feature in my wine rack for the appropriate occasions.  A word in the ear of the judicious wine appreciator: Strictly between us, watch out for the Long Road Shiraz 2009 which, while still in barrels, already shows Rhone-ish overtones and has the potential to outclass its 2008 awarded brother. This will not be released until around July but I’ve already placed my order. These wines can be found at Kamberra Wine Centre Corner Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road, North Lyneham,  Australian Capital Territory Tel. 02 6220 8500

cabernet king ‘This is Australia’s new super cabernet’ — Jamie Durrant, Essentials Magazine

Tastings of the 2004 Reserve Cabernet are available Thurs–Sun or by appointment.

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magazine autumn 2010 page 51


Look into a winemaker’s bag of tricks and you’ll find such things as skinny milk, horses’ hooves, egg whites and fish guts. Sam Plunkett, Chief Winemaker at Plunkett Fowles, reveals to Essentials’ Emma Westwood the magic behind winemaking. Hubble-bubble, toil and trouble… When listening to Sam Plunkett of Plunkett Fowles run through the steps of winemaking, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a wizard. The alchemy that goes into the processes — the ‘live’ nature of the maturation, the spectacle of sensory illusion that then turns into something entirely different — would have the teachers at Hogwarts running for their research manuals. But Sam prefers the label of ‘artisan’, that of a skilled manual worker who crafts and moulds a finished product by hand. ‘Yeah, I like that word,’ he says with a look of satisfaction and assurance.


Let’s jump back a bit, where we were squeezing that berry between our fingers… By squeezing out the juice, Sam wanted to demonstrate how, even from a red-coloured grape, the juice runs clear. So how is red wine made? Well, the key is in the skins, which contain the colour. To make red wine, the fruit is crushed then put into a fermenter — juice, pips, skins and all. The inky red of the skins creates the luscious hue and flavoursome taste of the different varieties of red wine. Voila! To make a white wine, the grapes are crushed in the same way as reds, but then moved into a press that gently squeezes the berries to separate the juice from the white skins. These skins are thrown away or fed to the sheep within about four hours of picking. So, in a nutshell, white wine is made from fermented juice only, while red wine contains not only the juice, but also the pips and skins.


‘Squeeze a grape and then tell me what you see.’ Sam has taken us among the vines, wedged between shiraz and cabernet — not a bad place to be. A rabbit scurries one way and the autumnal sun smiles down on us, a stark contrast to the pelting rains that had pummelled the area only a few days before. For Plunkett Fowles, harvest comes in the form of machines rolling in, technological advancement being a proud and prominent part of their winemaking. ‘If I’m worried about the weather and the fruit going mouldy, I can ring up Trevor and say “let’s haul the harvester out”,’ justifies Sam. ‘It takes three to four hours to pick a 20-tonne truckload by machine. Handpicking would take about 50 people and an eight-hour day. The challenge is where do you find 50-odd people at the drop of a hat? With hand harvesting, what you tend to do is say “I think we’ll be ready to pick in the middle of next week” and then you make your 50 phone calls and you line it up and, come hell or high water, you do it. That’s an example where I think technology lets you make a better winemaking decision.’ Sam makes no bones about the fact that the harvesting day is vital. He describes such decision-making as being ‘emotional’, something where he relies on the gut over the head. Especially with recent rains throwing a spanner in the works of a potentially perfect vintage, Sam has been trudging up and down his vines (at least) twice a day, squeezing, tasting and looking at his fruit from all angles until he feels the time is right. ‘I look at a particular vine,’ he says, referring to the leafy row in front of us, ‘and I say to myself “It looks green and healthy, absolutely no mould and disease, the crop’s easily spread with nothing bunched up anywhere, and there’s this dappled light where there’s a mix of fruit sitting in the sun…” There’s all sorts of magic going on. There are different things metabolising, creating colour and sugar and flavour…’ Sam’s eyes sparkle and, pardon us for saying it, but we can see the wizard coming out in him again.


‘Making wine is a process of evolution, of building on what Mother Nature has provided,’ explains Sam over his shoulder as we clamber behind him. ‘I like the fact that yeast is alive. I don’t particularly like cooking but I’ll make bread because the yeast is alive and changing. There’s something about steering that evolution that’s incredibly satisfying.’ The fermentation process for red wine happens within one week while kept at room temperature (which helps accelerate the ferment and also suck more tannin out of the skins). White wine can take up to one month at a cooler temperature (which helps maintain the ‘pretty fruit taste’) before all the sugars have turned into alcohol. We are now climbing along a raised walkway where we look down into some huge fermentation tanks, the kind where Sam tells us the more ‘cultured’ ferments take place. The foam on top of the white grape juice below — approximately five to 10 millimetres thick — seems to have a momentum all of its own, churning and moving to a current powered by yeast. ‘The yeast is eating hungrily at the sugar and turning into alcohol, and pumping out carbon dioxide,’ Sam says of the intense activity occurring beneath us. If we were lucky, we would have seen a pattern forming, like a dot painting, rising up through the foam of one of the tanks, but Sam says it’s usually only a one in 50 chance of this happening. ‘When you do see it, though, it’s absolutely beautiful.’ In contrast to such random beauty, Sam ushers us into a warehouse where oak barrels come stacked to the ceiling. Stick our noses into one of these barrels and we’re confronted with a less than agreeable foam and a smell that could be described as ‘baby poo’. Sam can’t help but laugh at the screwball expressions on our faces. This is where the wild ferments take place, the ‘less cultured’ ones, who are running free and doing ‘crazy stuff’. The oak of the barrel will eventually become a characteristic of the wine. ‘When you’re smelling that barrel and thinking, “I’m smelling a red”, you’re actually smelling a red and going “It’s smelling like oak”,’ explains Sam. Think about it. It does make sense. magazine autumn 2010 page 53



In order to give us a feel for the blending and fining of wine — where the winemaker gets to ‘reveal’ characteristics of a particular drop — Sam takes us into his magic cube… ‘You’ve got to imagine the wine as a three-dimensional thing that you can crawl around inside of,’ he says with great enthusiasm. ‘There’s aroma, the flavour, and the shape and texture of the wine. Shape and texture is the most exciting thing for me. That’s when you’ve got the thing in your mouth and you’re inside it, and it’s a bit dinted over here or a bit raspy and ugly over there.’ Sam’s hands fly through the air as he constructs his imaginary model. ‘So you might bash that dint out with some shiraz to fatten out the palate and you might fine it with an appropriate protein like egg white or even fish guts to rub off those aggressive tannins over there, and then you might add a bit of acid to extend the palate and give the wine more length.’ After crawling around inside Sam’s hypothetical prism for a moment or two, we get his drift. He’s what you could call ‘a wine panelbeater’. Then Sam becomes more specific and explains his modus operandi for the Plunkett Fowles product suite. ‘With Stone Dwellers, we’re trying to be representative of the region so we don’t muck around with it too much — we just let the flavours of the region show themselves. Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch has stronger fruit flavours, so we blend in some gewürztraminer to give it more perfume and we put it in barrels with stinky yeast to give it more texture. 490M needs to be more approachable with not too much flavour as this can be overwhelming, so we stop the ferment earlier, make sure there’s less tannin and allow the sugars to soften the taste of the acid.’ According to Sam, our bodies inherently react negatively to tannin, as ancient poisons were tannic in nature. Therefore, the full-bodied, bloody reds are definitely an acquired taste. ‘Like we’re accustomed to the pain,’ jokes Sam.

As the bottles fly along the production line, miraculously labelled and ready for packaging at the end, Sam struggles to talk over the noisy machinery in concluding his tuition. Apparently, one of the frequently asked questions about wine concerns preservatives. ‘The cool thing about wine is its alcohol because it’s naturally a preservative,’ tells Sam. ‘Red wines are chock-full of tannins and that’s a preservative, too. The amount of preservative we use is in such low levels because the wine inherently wants to look after itself.’ Sulphur dioxide is the main preserving additive used today, although its usage harks back to Roman times. ‘They’d pick up elemental sulphur and burn it in the wine barrels to keep it sound. It kills the bugs and hoovers up the oxygen that the bugs like.’ And what makes our teeth and lips turn black when drinking red wine? It’s the anthocyanin (pigment) contained in tannin. ‘When the blokes see that rim around women’s mouths, they think “happy hunting ground”,’ says Sam with a wink. With bottles under our arms and heads spinning with information, we wave off Sam and thank him for a most enlightening afternoon. Such passion has certainly rubbed off on his new students, and knowing more has made the value of wine seem further pronounced, as well as the flavours and characteristics of each mouthful. Sam Plunkett may not be an actual wizard but, hell, to call the winemaking process anything less than magical would be sacrilege. Corner Hume Highway and Lambing Gully Road, Avenel, Victoria Tel. 03 5796 2150

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The Essentials Autumn Package One nights luxury accommodation in a King Suite, inclusive of two course dinner and fully cooked breakfast in the Atrium Restaurant, a bottle of Dalzotto Prosecco plus late checkout at 11.00am. Package rate $299 for two (subject to availability) valid until September 30 2010

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THE PIG OF HAPPINESS is alive and well.

Roi’s Diner

177 Kiewa Valley Hwy Tawonga, Victoria. Tel. 03 5754 4495

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Djambu Barra Barra Medicine Man 1998, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 120 x 240 cm. Hans Sip Collection, Melbourne



hink huge landscape paintings, bursting with colour and life, depicting country and ancestral power — no dot paintings or ochres on bark. This exhibition of individual visions from Roper River artists will transform your expectations of Indigenous art. Colour Country: Art from Roper River is a selective collection of approximately 50 works from the Roper River region in the Northern Territory. The collection encapsulates wild escarpments and dense woodland, billabongs sprayed with lilies, geese, crocodiles and the ruined city rock formations of the Mara and Alawa people, a place that reveals matrices of

connection between people, country and ancestral past. Major artists such as Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, Djambu Barra Barra, Willie Gudabi, Gertie Huddleston and Amy Jirwulurr Johnson have contributed their paintings drawn from private and public collections and from Ngukurr Arts, the artist-run community art centre at Ngukurr, Northern Territory. Curated by Cath Bowdler, Colour Country: Art from Roper River is a significant Indigenous exhibition with over 45 works on display. This is a must-see, as paintings from Roper River have only been exhibited together in a major public gallery once and

many of these works, collected Australiawide, have not been exhibited at all or are rarely seen. Save your pennies and book a trip to Darwin; Essentials urges you not to miss this diverse, unique and hauntingly beautiful collection of historical Australian perspectives at the Gallery of the Northern Territory. 22 May–11 July, 2010 19 Conacher Street, Fannie Bay, Northern Territory Tel. 08 8999 8264

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DESSERT MEDLEY Almond, macadamia and Lindt dark choc Torte; Choc gateaux sandwich with Chantilly creme; Genovese espresso tiramisu; Mango, passionfruit and ricotta baked cheesecake with a macadamia crust; Flourless orange cake with sugared flaked almonds

Duck breast l’orange with caramellised orange segments, garden squash, silverbeet, julienne carrot and potato

Poached iceberg parcels stuffed with ricotta, fetta green olives, with a fine home grown tomato jus and fresh basil

Roast pickled pork loin, crackling chop with sauerkraut, caramellised Pink Lady apples and creamy mash




oi’s at Tawonga is the sort of place you’d love to stumbled across while travelling overseas. You know the feeling — when you’ve been just a bit clever finding somewhere really authentic. Family-run, loads of character, great menu, lots of locals, off the beaten track. Sitting high in the Kiewa Valley, with Bogong and Fainter looming imperiously in the distance and silverbacked ridges sliding into the valley ahead, Roi’s ticks all those boxes and more. Owners Sue White and Roi Rigoni have run their restaurant here — just five kilometres out of Mount Beauty — since 1996. Introduced to the stoves at the age of five by his Italian mother, Roi has 35 years as a chef in the North East, Melbourne and Adelaide behind him, and Sue runs front of house with great aplomb (‘my background was as a manager for Telstra — I’ve managed lots of people!’). But it’s what they do outside the restaurant that sheds some light on how this couple works. Roi runs Secret Men’s Business cooking classes (and now one for women, too) each week, while Sue teaches barista skills at the local TAFE, and works as a guest services ski patroller a day a week over winter. This is a couple that is really in touch locally — they give back, and they love life. This is only too evident in the dining room. There’s a shared life on show here: flower-festooned lamps, mirrors, paintings, liqueur bottles, piggy paraphernalia, all things duck, a circa 1969 Ericofon (British Post Office issue), a litup globe, Italian curios, even a butter sculpture made by visiting Tibetan monks — in 1997! ‘I have always collected without coming from a position of great knowledge of the monetary value of things — just the love of old objects and their form and style,’ admits Sue. Somehow, this collection doesn’t overpower the space — helped by the gentle glow of lamplight, it all works to provide a cosy background against which the night can play out comfortably. If the setting engenders comfort, the fact that Roi and Sue have had the same staff for an amazing 12 years ensures it. Other country restaurants would give their eye teeth to be able to offer the standard of service provided by Sue and her sidekick, Jacquie — they cruise the room,

Roi Rigoni

greeting regulars by name, offering advice and carefully overseeing everyone’s needs. A rundown of the menu reveals that a special, an octopus and calamari risotto with an eight-hour bisque base, is on because it was requested in advance by a table of regulars (from Albury, mind you, an hour’s drive away). ‘We like to give the customers what they want,’ says Roi. ‘And I love having regular clientele.’ If vegetarian diners can’t find something they like on the menu — and there are always two options — they’re even invited into the kitchen to find something else to suit. Add to that the use of gluten-free flour alternatives across most of the dishes and you have a kitchen that places the diners’ needs foremost. But Roi’s strength is protein. While the choices run the full gamut, including seafood and game, it’s pork and duck that have become classics here. ‘Some people never have anything but the duck; others only have the pork,’ this big man laughs. Tonight it’s duck à l’orange, ‘a match made in heaven,’ says Sue, but it might just as easily have been duck with quince or plum sauce, depending on the season. Food critic Stephen Downes rocketed the roast pickled pork chop with caramelised apple, sauerkraut and mash to stardom when he listed it in his book To Die For: 100 Gastronomic Experiences to Have Before You Die, ensuring forever its place on the menu. But don’t let these iconic dishes dissuade you from trying Roi’s other offerings. Sad not to have tried the handmade pasta — too many choices! — we were pleased we’d included in our entrée order the gorgeous, unctuous slow-roasted pork belly, and the bruschetta with grilled Fremantle sardines. Ditto the main of braised lamb shanks osso-buco style. Our 11-year-old snaffled this and was loathe to part with it, savouring the broth in which the discs of gelatinous meat sat. ‘Roi loves to take a classic Aussie dish and quirk it,’ Sue tells us, giving our son just the same attention as any other diner in the room. And this just about sums up our experience at Roi’s: a night of delicious food served professionally in a convivial, caring environment. No wonder regulars drive an hour to come here. Open Thurs–Sun from 6:30pm 177 Kiewa Valley Highway, Tawonga, Victoria Tel. 03 5754 4495

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La Fiera Festival Myrtleford, Victoria 14-23 May, 2010



hen you think of Italy, do you wistfully long for a taste of rich, authentic pasta? Or perhaps an earthy glass of sangiovese, or a sparkling prosecco? Cars? Soccer? Spaghetti westerns? The Italians are a diversely talented bunch, but with Italy so far away, it’s not often the chance arises to experience it first-hand. Luckily for us, the town of Myrtleford is being transformed into a little slice of Italy in the Alpine Region for the La Fiera Festival for 10 days of fun the Italian way in May! Whether you decide to visit Myrtleford for a weekend or for the whole La Fiera festival, check out the list of must-see events from 14 to 23 May, 2010.Â

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La Fiera Festival Myrtleford, Victoria 14-23 May, 2010

CULTURAL EVENTS Masquerade Ball (Friday 14 May) The chance for the upper class to mask their faces and anonymously mix with the man on the street was the source of much fun and frivolity for wealthy Venetians in history. The La Fiera Festival is recreating the mystique of the mask by hosting the inaugural Masquerade Ball to mark the first day of the Festival. Guests will be treated to a three-course dinner including wine and music by a local Italian band, and the two best-dressed attendees will walk away with flights to Rome! You can reserve a table by calling the Savoy Club on 03 5751 1296. Tables of eight are available. Tickets are $75 per person.  Spaghetti Western Film Festival (Sunday 16 May) Is spaghetti western an acquired taste? Find out for yourself and experience three 1960s films produced by leading Italian director, Sergio Leone.  1pm A Fistful of Dollars (90 min.) R18+ 4pm For a Few Dollars More (131 min.) MA15+ 8pm The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (156 min.) MA15+ If you are planning to attend the first film, stay on after to show for the launch of a new book, Parlato in Italiano — The Heyday of Italian Cinema in Myrtleford. Choral Festival (Sunday 15 May) Enjoy an afternoon of glorious choral music featuring five spectacular groups of choral musicians, with young students from St Mary’s Primary School singing with pure passion, to more serious singers covering high church music and everywhere in between.  Comedy Festival Roadshow (Thursday 20 May) The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs throughout April in Melbourne. After the season finishes, the internationally recognised comedians break up into touring groups and visit regional areas, like Myrtleford. What a crack up! Tickets are $30 per person.  Italian Connection Trophy Rally Motorkhana and Dinner (Saturday 22 May) The Italian Connection Trophy Rally rolls into Myrtleford to raise money for the Duchenne Foundation. The drivers’ skills are tested around a Motorkhana course commencing at 3.30pm and you never know what types of cars might come along — anything from Ferraris to Fiats, there may even be a few Ducatti’s for the diehard fans! After the formalities of the racing day, Myrtleford hosts the drivers in the newly refurbished Ablett Pavilion, where guests can chat with the competitors and enjoy a satisfying Italian meal. There will also be a choir singing for the group as Noel Stone explained, ‘They start with the Italian national anthem, and the drivers all get a little mistyeyed!’ Soccer Tournament (Sunday 16 May) What would an Italian festival be without a game of soccer? Everyone can get involved in the Soccer Tournament with juniors, ladies, reserves and seniors from Myrtleford and Wangaratta slugging it out. With Italian sausages on the barbecue, it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the world game!

For more information about the activities listed, visit

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La Fiera Festival Myrtleford, Victoria 14-23 May, 2010

FOOD AND WINE The Tortellini Trail (Saturday 15 May, Sunday 16 May)


Channel your inner tourist and get on your bike for this 47-kilometre round trip through the beautiful Happy Valley. Starting at the Myrtleford Visitor Information Centre, the ride takes you to nine local gems — wineries, a pub, a lavender farm and even a nut grove. And best part: whatever you eat, you will burn off on the next leg! If you tire along the way, you can call Bus-a-Bike on 03 5752 2974 and have them pick you and your bicycle up; and for those not riding, the route travels along public roads, so you can drive and not miss any of the fun. Download a map from Dalla Terra degustation dinner at The Butter Factory (7pm, Friday 21 May) Naomi Ingleton from The Butter Factory plays host for a slow food degustation dinner with carefully matched local Alpine wines, presented personally by the winemakers.  Slow food is the belief that the preparation of food should be slowed down — locally sourced, homegrown where possible, utilising butchery with little wastage and returning to traditional cooking methods. Naomi definitely has her slow food credentials as convivium leader for the newly-formed Alpine Valleys slow food group.  ‘We are taking guests on a tour of Italy via local food and wine with beautiful homegrown local produce. Even some of the recipes belong to the winemakers’ families. It will be like having dinner with your extended Italian family.’ To be part of this slow food experience, call The Butter Factory on 03 5752 2300 to book a seat. Tickets are $75 per person.  World’s Longest Pasta Lunch — Michelini Wines (12.15pm-2.45pm, Sunday 23 May) Michelini Wines celebrates the world’s longest pasta lunch by inviting guests to join them among the vines for a four-course sit down lunch.  Before and after lunch, guests can take part in a Living Chess Match. Originating from Marostica, near Venice, the Living Chess Match recreates the chess game two men played to win the hand of the Lord’s daughter. It was held in public, using real people as the chess pieces. Spectators will watch the Michelini game from a specially built auditorium, featuring costumed actors, medieval music and all the drama of that first match in 1454! During the festival, Michelini Wines will launch their new red variety, teroldego. Greg O’Keefe from Michelini Wines says, ‘In 2005, a small area of our vineyard in the Buckland Valley was planted to teroldego, still recognized as the only commercial planting of this variety in Australia. It is a rich red and goes beautifully with spicy Italian dishes like polpette.’ For more information, visit the Michelini Wines website at or call 03 5751 1990 to book. Food and Wine Expo (11am-4pm, Saturday 22 May) The Alpine Valleys Vignerons will recreate an Italian market square in Clyde Street as they bring together regional wineries and providores for the Food and Wine Expo. You can jump in the vat and get messy taking part in a grape crushing competition, and amateur chefs will be competing for glory in the Chestnut Cooking competition.  Festival Organiser Noel Stone says ‘All four of our Italian societies — Calabrese, Trentini, Vincentini and Trevisani — will be cooking traditional Italian dishes from each region for you to sample.’  Add to the bill entertainment such as traditional Italianstyle street theatre, Commedia Dell’Arte, performed by Junior Members of the Bright Alpine Actors, the Food and Wine Expo is shaping up to be a major highlight of the La Fiera Festival.  

For more information about the activities listed, visit

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THIS BIRD CAN SING Clockwise from top left: Boondooroo Farm organic sourdough bread; looking from Whorouly towards Mt Buffalo; Clare Bird (left), owner of The Whorouly Grocer, and Jules Wondrasek, her ‘third arm’; house-preserved fruit; vintage china; cheddar, homemade chutney and rocket sanga

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wh-wh-what? wh-wh-where?

whoroulygrocer in the heart of the Ovens Valley WORDS CAROLINE PIZZEY PHOTOGRAPHY JAMIE DURRANT


ollow the signs to Whorouly on the Great Alpine Road, the Glenrowan–Myrtleford Road or the Rail Trail and you’ll find some of the best coffee in the North East and a clutch of farm-based B&Bs that offer a base within 15 minutes’ drive of Beechworth, Milawa, Myrtleford and Wangaratta. This isn’t city-glitz but the real deal: a tiny rural township that embodies all that is good about the North East — diverse farming enterprises, a thriving community, loads of activities, and all within cooee of the beautiful Ovens River. Clare and Charlie Bird cottoned on to Whorouly’s potential when they happened upon the auction of the old general store a few years ago. So entranced were they that they ended up winning bidders. The Birds might have been impulsive buyers, but they’ve trodden a careful path since. Following a total rebuild, The Whorouly Grocer is a corrugated-iron take on the store that had serviced the area since the turn of last century. (A 1901 penny was found under a windowsill, put there by the original builder, it’s thought — a good omen, perhaps?) A verandah offers a retreat from the weather as it has for a century, but it’s the quirky hessian sign that hangs out front that signals the Grocer is no longer your average milk-bread-and-paper store. Inside, all becomes evident. Retro tables and chairs dance across the polished concrete floor, music welling in the background. Comfy chairs and a magazine-scattered table fill a window, flanked by second-hand books and tourist info. Grocery items dominate one side of this airy space and cabinets run across the rear, carrying a hefty coffee machine, blackboard menu and all manner of delectable goodies — even a take-you-back-to-your-childhood range of mixed sweets. Something for everyone. And perhaps that’s the key to The Whorouly Grocer. A store has to service a local community and so it needs the basics. But a store in a food-loving area popular with visitors also has another market. Hence, at the Grocer you’ll find your everyday two-litre milk bottle alongside an organic option. There’s tinned fruit, and there are also the Grocer’s own glorious preserves — think ‘peaches with a hint of orange’. Saladas? Yep, opposite the grissini and lavosh. There are no fewer than nine housemade jams — and, yes, there’s Vegemite, too. In the freezer you’ll find icy poles, just to the left of the local award-winning Gundowring icecream. ‘The school kids pool their money now and buy a tub in preference!’, laughs Jules, Clare’s ‘third arm’, who is also known to give a maths lesson when handing over change at the sweets counter. Sugar, pulses, grains, oats and muesli are sold in bulk; local olive oil sits alongside imported pasta and organic coconut cream, and on it goes. The only thing Clare won’t do is sliced white bread — instead, she brings in Boondooroo Farm organic sourdough loaves each weekend. King Valley Free Range Pork is also sold here, and as much local fresh produce as can be sourced. ‘Sometimes I barter with locals;

sometimes they won’t take anything — I make preserves then, I don’t feel right just selling it!’ I’m not sure Clare would do anything if it wasn’t ‘right’. She has a wonderful eye for detail, a keen design sense. Illustrated whimsical signs in her ultra-neat hand draw your eye in: Good cycling mix (deluxe trail mix with seriously good chocolate), Whorouly rain by the glass, jam menu, bottled rosy quinces. Tea (Larsen & Thompson) comes on a tray with a pot, strainer and delicate tea cup, and the organic Fairtrade coffee is seriously good. The breakfast and lunch menus feature honest, tasty fare: vanilla peaches and muesli, hearty sandwiches, a herby frittata, a salad plate (perhaps roasted beetroot and lima beans with herbs and goat’s cheese on toast); homemade baked beans — condiments housemade, bread sourdough. Cakes are a highlight, with fruit-based tarts a must — these come with cream and, gasp, an ironed vintage napkin. Again, it’s a thoughtful range, put together with consideration. While Charlie is from the North East, Clare grew up in Melbourne, where her parents nurtured foodie tendencies via a veggie patch and orchard. A stint at Woodside Cheese Wrights in Adelaide led her to study Food Technology/Dairy, with a placement under the renowned Richard Thomas. After working at the Richmond Hill Larder and Café, Simon Johnson, and in the organic industry, Clare spent six months making cheese in the UK, Ireland and France. And then came Whorouly. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a cheese counter at the Grocer — it’s not every day you find an Italian pecorino or an aged Dutch goat’s cheese in your average country store! But then The Whorouly Grocer is anything but average. And I should know. It’s my local store — and I love it! Open Mon, Thurs & Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm (closed Tues & Wed) 577 Whorouly Road, Whorouly, Victoria Tel. 03 5727 1220

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must drink wines

must drink wines Jamie Durrant samples new releases from Sam Miranda, King Valley Sam Miranda 2009 Prosecco Simplicity’s the key, this is one part of Italian culture I’ve enjoyed learning about most. Whether it be’ eating a slice of sweet prosciutto, a fresh roma tomato picked from the vine or cracking open a bottle of prosecco. They’re simple things that should be enjoyed every day, as they manage to bring affordable beauty into our lives — so wake up and smell the roses, and wine (a little later in the day, perhaps). This 2009 new-release prosecco from Sam Miranda is no exception. It is subtly packaged in the King Valley vigneron’s own patented bottle in silver and black; it appears crystal clear, almost a completely a clean-white colour, and sparkles joyfully in the sunshine. Green apples and citrus are what this wine is about; and so with it comes a well-chosen balance of acid ‘tartness’, making this wine great with antipasti or simply as an aperitif (aka after-work drink). With the addition of some softer tones of honeysuckle and a nice flintiness, Sam’s prosecco finishes nicely. Without over-explaining things, I’d rather suggest trying it for yourself. Affordable, attractive, extremely easy to drink and a fantastic addition to our lives — need I say more? 2008 Sam Miranda Girls’ Block Do me a favour: join me for a tasting now, and again in another in five years’ time. The Sam Miranda Girls’ Block Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot is a classic French-influenced wine that is beautiful; however should be consumed with care. Given the firm tannins and the big berry fruit ‘punch’, this wine requires some time to oxygenate after opening. Perhaps decant the bottle, otherwise open and leave the cap off for an hour or so before drinking. Doing this will allow the wine to open up and truly express its lush and gorgeous fragrance — think big, ripe black berries, chocolate, leather and the classic lifted touches of violets due to the smart addition of petit verdot (a red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends to add tannin, colour and flavour). Drinking now, it has a relatively silky mouthfeel with firm tannins, a medium body and a long finish. Given the tannins, it really would drink perfectly alongside a New York strip steak, a rich Italian meat dish such as osso bucco, or simply perhaps meatballs in pasta sauce — or ‘gravy’, as New Jersey Italians call it. In terms of old-world cabernet blends verus new-world drink-now wines, this blend seems to sit somewhere in the middle. It’s not too acidic, the tannins are not too chalky, and the fruit is clean with some nice subtle oak touches. I’m keen to grab a case of this wine and lay it down for five or so years. Like a Coonawarra, or even Glenrowan, big boys’ red, this wine has all the makings of a brilliant time capsule: with fruit that will meld and soften in time. I strongly suggest putting at least six of these guys away, as bottle age can work wonders with the right reds. Although it’s fair to say that Sam’s lady vigneron daughters, Caterina, Allegra and Arabella, collectively played a passionate role in making this wine — helping with the plunging of a trial vat of pressed fruit (literally diving in, limbs and all, skin soaking in the anti-oxidant goodness) — it is Allegra who has shown a keen interest in this wine’s production. From continued fruit tasting, to deciding when to harvest, and on to sales assistant work at cellar door, Allegra, is one five-year-old with some real get up and go. Next time you’re in the area, why not ask her to pour you a drop of this precious product. Snow Road, Oxley, Victoria Tel. 1800 994 750 magazine summer 2010 page 54

hedonistic hiking FOOD • WINE • WALKING

• Invigorate your Senses • Indulge in Fine Food and Wine • Discover the secrets of the High Country

JOIN US IN ITALY IN 2010 May 2010 9th – 16th Volterra and the Tuscan Maremma 23rd – 30th Week in Tuscany June 2010 6th – 13th Tuscany and Umbria 26th – 3rd July Jewels of Piedmont July 2010 4th – 11th Valle d’Aosta and Gran Paradiso National Park September 2010 5th – 12th Tuscany and Umbria 17th – 24th Parma, Tuscany and the Cinque Terre 26th – 3rd October Week in Tuscany October 2010 9th – 16th Jewels of Piedmont Of course, if you’d like to book a private walking adventure or you’d prefer a trek custom-designed to meet your specific requirements, Jackie and Mick are more than happy to oblige.

J o i n u s i n I t aly 2010: Tuscany – Umb r i a – C i n q u e Te rre – Piedmont – Italian A l p s Australia Summer 2010 - 2011

High Countr y Tours – Winer y Walks – Lazy Lunches – Short break packages. See our website for details.

Tel. 03 5755 2307 • •

Essentials Magazine Mid-Autumn 2010  

Discover Essentials Magazine - Australia's fastest growing eclectic-informative food, wine, arts and culture magazine.Proudly showcasing exc...

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