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The Beach People - Ahoy Trader
Eat & Drink, Everything Else, Fashion

Friday Finds: The Upside, 12 Health, The Beach People and Coffee Not Coffee

It must be a new year thing, but this week the finds are all about healthy living. I’m feeling for a February full to the brim with successes and stories.

The Upside – Is it the Lululemon effect or something? It seems that the world is suddenly awash with gorgeous boutique activewear labels. And even in that sea of lovely, The Upside stands out. I’m making eyes at the printed yoga tights… not boring but also not too outlandish (there’s only so much you want to attract admiring glances when you’re in lycra after all).

12 Health Muffin Mix

12 Health – The real problem with the whole clean eating thing is that it’s thoroughly time consuming. By the time I’ve been at work for 9+ hours, walked the dog, been to the gym, meditated and handled whatever else the day throws at me, it’s honestly a miracle that I remember to eat at all. And this is why I’m newly enamoured with 12 Health. Low carb, protein-rich, sugar, dairy, wheat and mostly (except one product) gluten free, I can knock out a week’s worth of delicious breakfast muffins in under an hour. Prices from $9.99 AUD for a packet that makes 6 muffins.

The Beach People – Because Turkish towels have had their time in the sun (see what I did there?) and now it’s about round, printed towels that have a little magic carpet ride flair about them and double as sandy-side picnic rugs. Towels, $99.00 AUD.

Coffee Not Coffee - Hot Cacao

Coffee Not Coffee – At the heart of this brand is coffee packed with a nutritional punch, but to be totally honest I bypassed all of that and made a beeline for the hot cacao. It’s sugar free, so not sweet in the way you’d expect of hot chocolate but still somehow hits the same spot. 14 sachets for $24.00 AUD.

Barbacoa Bali
Eat & Drink, Travel

Eat Bali

To regular readers it will be clear that Bali is a longtime favourite at The Lifestyle Department. Warm, cheap and close (if you live in Australia or Asia, anyway), it’s got a lot to offer. Well, I’m here to tell you it now has another weapon in it’s arsenal: foodie hotspot. Bali it seems, is making a play as the foodie getaway destination of the Asia Pacific region.

We recently revisited some delicious old friends and discovered some new, finding meal after meal of moreish morsels and thoroughly quaffable drinks. Here’s what made the list.

Mister Zimi - Shot at Motel Mexicola

Mister Zimi – shot at Motel Mexicola

Laid-back

Revolver Espresso (Seminyak) – down an alley in a cool, kooky room you’ll find , Melbourne-standard coffee alongside fantastic brunch fare until 6pm. Coffee aside, we scoffed the juices, sliders and the jerk chicken quesadilla. Also see the newest addition to the Revolver family – Baby Revs (102 Jalan Petitenget).

Watercress (Kerobokan) – delicious, delightful, delovely. Get it in your face.

Betelnut Cafe (Canggu) – healthful, organic and locally priced. It’s a trifecta.

Motel Mexicola (Seminyak) – a whole lotta tasty and a whole lotta fun. Ole!

Mozaic Bali

Mozaic Bali

Luxe

Mamasan (Seminyak) – slick and smart with a menu to match, it’s allllll good but don’t leave without trying a coconut and lychee crush.

Sarong (Seminyak) – eco-friendly, sustainable and organic produce from local suppliers. Get a table outside and enjoy this modern take on Asian fare.

Merah Putih (Seminyak) – mouthwatering modern Indonesian food in a stunning setting – think cathedral meets giant bonsai forest. Be sure to try the rendang steamed buns and the slipper lobster.

Barbacoa (Kerobokan) – the home of the hip and happening crowd, this warehouse space exudes Latin American style bites. We’re crazy for the burnt carrot and the Cuban pulled pork slider which frankly justifies the airfare alone.

Mozaic (Ubud) – Indonesian food done fine dining (degustation) style.

La Lucciola (Seminyak) – Italian in Indonesia? You bet. Get yours with a seriously authentic Aperol spritz as the sun sets over the ocean.

The bar at Cecconi's
Destination Dining, Eat & Drink

Cecconi’s: Melbourne’s Underground Secret

Melbournians are a spoiled bunch. When it comes to dining establishments, every single segment of the market is overflowing with options – fine dining, casual dining, breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between there are more choices than anyone could reasonably get through.

Only here could a restaurant as exquisite and long-standing as Cecconi’s successfully go under the collective radar. In fact, with it’s subterranean location in one of Melbourne’s most prominent laneways, a visit here makes you feel like you’ve truly unearthed one of the city’s best kept culinary secrets.

We were recently invited to celebrate the new at Cecconi’s as the restaurant and bar unveiled both their new fit out and Autumn menu. Spoonfuls of deliciousness for the foodies and design aficionados abound.

Images courtesy Tim O’Connor

A visit is, of course, essential. Just don’t leave without sampling an Aperol spritz, made in authentic Verona style, the duck, the risotto… oh, look, just go. Eat. Drink. Enjoy. Anything you pick will be spectacular.

If you’re not in Melbourne anytime soon however, the kitchen were kind enough to share their recipe for tiramisu for you to recreate at home. Get ready to impress.

Tiramisu at Cecconi's

Cecconi’s Tiramisu
Serves 10.

INGREDIENTS

Filling

75 grams castor sugar 200 ml Marsala
4 eggs
500 grams mascarpone 125 ml Galliano

Coffee mix

500 ml espresso coffee 125 ml Strega
125ml Kahlua 1-tablespoon sugar

Sponge finger biscuits 10 glasses
Cocoa, for dusting

page1image4712

METHOD
To make the filling, place sugar, Marsala and eggs in a metal bowl and whisk over a bain-marie until mixture thickens. Place the mixture into an electric mixer and continue whisking until cool.

In a separate bowl, soften the mascarpone with the Galliano and then add to the cooled egg mixture. Whisk together until the mixture reaches the consistency of whipped cream.

Combine all the coffee ingredients.

To assemble, soak the biscuits in the coffee mixture, then place at the bottom of each glass, forming the first layer. Spoon over some of the mascarpone mixture, then add another layer of soaked biscuits. Continue layering until all the ingredients have been used, ensuring that the last layer is mascarpone.

Dust with cocoa and serve.

Cecconi’s is located at 61 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Australia. Bookings can be made online.

Finn's Mahi Mahi
Eat & Drink

Recipe: Finn’s Beach Club Char-grilled Mahi-Mahi

So, you’ve decided to do that uber-luxe holiday. You flew Jetstar to save some cash on the flights (clever you) and now you can go all out on the activities. You’ve taken a cable car down the cliff side to a beach with water the hue of the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen, there’s Finn’s Beach Club with a bar, pool chairs to recline on, the gentle wish-wash of waves. Could this get any better? Well yes, as it turns out the folks in the Finn’s kitchen are a talented bunch, and send out plate after plate of delectable morsels.

We managed to coax out our favourite recipe between swims. You can thank us later.

Finn's Mahi Mahi

CHAR-GRILLED MAHI-MAHI

Served with stir-fried bok choy, herbed potato, chilli emulsion and Balinese sambal

Ingredients for char-grilled mahi-mahi

200g mahi-mahi fillet (also called dolphinfish)

30g olive oil

5g salt

1g pepper

10g finely chopped garlic

5g finely chopped fresh dill

Ingredients for herbed mashed potato

120g boiled potatoes

20g herbs (parsley and thyme) fine chopped

2g grated nutmeg

20g butter

20g cooking cream

Ingredients bok choy

100g bok choy

15g onion, fine chopped

10ml lemon juice

3g salt

1g crushed black pepper

Ingredients for chilli emulsion

20ml salad oil

10g chopped garlic

3g chopped hot chili

10g chopped red chili

2g shrimp paste

30g chopped tomatoes

3g salt

10g cooking cream

10g butter

Ingredients sambal matah

30ml salad oil

20g chopped shallots

20g chopped lemongrass

3g chopped hot chili

5g chopped red chili

10g lime

Ingredients for garnish

half grilled lemon

5g fresh coriander

 

METHOD

Prepare a medium to hot grill, rub the mahi-mahi with oil, chopped garlic, chopped fresh dill, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Place the prepared mahi-mahi on the grill and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter when cooked.

Boil and drain bok choy. Stir-fry bok choy with chopped onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Peel and boil potatoes. Remove from the water and drain immediately, use a food mill to make mashed potatoes and add butter, hot cooking cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, parsley and thyme.

Prepare chili emulsion, chop garlic, hot chili, red chili, tomatoes and sautée in hot oil until cooked. Use food mill to blend until smooth, return to pan, stir in shrimp paste, salt and remaining butter and cooking cream.

Prepare Balinese sambal, chop shallots, lemon grass, hot chili and red chili. Mix together and add salad oil, shrimp paste, lime juice and salt to taste.

Add half-grilled lemon and fresh coriander to garnish.

 

Thanks again to Jetstar for inviting us to celebrate the first flight of their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We’re big fans of style on a budget!

Dad's Muesli in a mason jar
Eat & Drink

Recipe: Dad’s Muesli

Dad's Muesli in a mason jar

My dad is famous* for his muesli. It’s healthy, interesting, nutritious and keeps you full for ages. Best of all, a decent-sized batch can last a month or more. When he was visiting recently we knocked some up. OK, he made it, I took photos.

This muesli is particularly wonderful because it’s so flexible – I choose to have mine wheat free, for example. Here’s how you can make it at home…

Makes enough to last for 4 – 8 weeks eating for breakfast 5 days / week depending upon the number of people in your house. 

Ingredients

1.2 kg uncut, untoasted, organic oats / spelt flakes / quinoa flakes / rice flakes / bran flakes – whatever you like in the flake / oat family.
1/3 jar warm coconut oil / butter (approx 100g).
1/3 jar agave syrup or honey.
1 kg your choice of raw nuts, seeds and dried fruit. We used almonds, pepitas, cashews, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, goji berries, sultanas and coconut flakes.

Make the magic happen

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 fahrenheit).

Put all your seeds and dried fruit in a very large mixing bowl. Next, take a bread knife (the really serrated one in your knife block) and slowly chop the nuts. You can put them in a food processor for a couple of whizzes if you’d prefer, but the result is much finer and not as textured. This way you still get the crunchiness (and it looks a bit nicer, too!). The serrated edge on the knife stops the nuts from flicking all over your kitchen.

First stages of Dad's Muesli - chopped nuts, goji berries and pepitas

Add the chopped nuts to the seeds and fruit. Give it all a bit of a mix.

The base ingredients of Dad's Muesli

Put your oats / flakes in a roasting pan or on a baking tray. Dad says roasting pans are better as they’ll avoid spillage when you need to turn them later. Sling it in the oven for about 8 minutes. Check the news headlines / follow us on Instagram while you wait.

Combine the agave syrup and coconut oil. We did this by literally just tipping it all into a jar and shaking feverishly until combined.

After 8 minutes, take them out and carefully turn them over – you’re ensuring the heat is evenly spread. Put them back in the oven for another 5 – 8 minutes. Keep going like this until you can feel the warmth radiating from the oats / flakes when you take them out of the oven and hold your hand over them.

It’s important that both oats / flakes are warm and the coconut oil is properly liquid. If either are cold you’ll end up with clumps of coconut butter in the finished product.

Tip the oats / flakes into the mixing bowl with the nut mixture. Drizzle the coconut liquid over the top and then mix the whole lot slowly until well combined.

Mixing the final ingredients of Dad's Muesli

You’ll be able to tell it’s finished when everything looks slightly moist. Store in an airtight container in the pantry for 6 – 8 weeks. I love it served with fresh fruit and yoghurt!

Dad's Muesli

* I use the word ‘famous’ fairly loosely. Dad lives in the middle of nowhere – his nearest neighbours are some 20km (12.5 miles) away. But hypothetically, if we had a big family or he had the neighbours over for breakfast a lot, I’m sure he’d be famous.

 

No-Bake double chocolate peanut butter snack bites from How Sweet It Is
Eat & Drink

5 Ways With Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are having a bit of a moment right now. If you’re not familiar with them they’re tiny little seeds that come in both black and white and when dry look a little like fat poppy seeds. When soaked however, they look remarkably like fertilised frog eggs. For realsies. But why would you soak them anyway? Well, the ‘gel’ that forms when the seeds are soaked in a liquid (like water) can be used as a replacement for oil and eggs in baking or thrown in smoothies in place of milk.

And here’s why you’d bother with all that. Chia seeds are notoriously high in omega 3 oils (not fish oils though – you only get them from fish, surprise). They’re also up there on the calcium, dietary fibre and tryptophan meters. No, they’re not a silver bullet for health, but along with other nuts and seeds they’re worth adding to your diet.

Here are five ways our favourite food bloggers have been using them…

1. As a pudding.
These puddings work for breakfast, dessert and even snacks. Best of all they’re insanely simple to make. 

Chia seed puddings from A Beautiful Mess

Chia seed puddings from A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess has recipes for both vanilla (breakfast, snacks) and chocolate (dessert) chia seed puddings, with nutritious pomegranate seeds to top it off.

Chia Seed Pudding via The Roasted Root

Chia Seed Pudding via The Roasted Root

The Roasted Root has a delicious chia seed pudding recipe that is – wait for it – gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and even paleo friendly but somehow not flavour free.

2. In baking.

As mentioned before, when soaked, chia seeds form a little gel bubble around themselves that has the consistency of jelly. It’s a bit slimy, so if you’re not into that sort of texture it can be hard to swallow (er, literally and metaphorically). The good news is that slimy texture makes it a great substitute for oil and eggs in baking that is healthful and vegan.

Chia, lemon and blueberry cake via Wandering Spice

Chia, lemon and blueberry cake via Wandering Spice

Wandering Spice concocted not just this scrumptious chia gel cake recipe but has also done the measurement homework for you (1 tbsp of chia + 1/3 cup water = 1 egg).

Pina Colada Muffins by iFOODreal

Pina Colada Muffins by iFOODreal

iFOODreal makes their chia gel for these Pina Colada muffins with coconut milk instead of water for a flavoured gel.

3. In no-baking.
No baking, in case you aren’t on the bandwagon, is a raw food style of ‘cooking’ that involves concoctions that don’t require heat to stay together. Some are dehydrated, some are frozen and others are refrigerated. Chia is great in these types of recipes because even without soaking, the seeds get down to business when prepared with other ingredients, absorbing moisture and keeping it all stuck together.

No-Bake double chocolate peanut butter snack bites from How Sweet It Is

No-Bake double chocolate peanut butter snack bites from How Sweet It Is

Rather than a straight-up healthy recipe, How Sweet It Is takes these no-bake double chocolate peanut butter snack bites and ups the nutritional quota with oats, nuts, and of course – chia seeds.

Minty cocoa bars by No Pasta for Penguins

Minty cocoa bars by No Pasta for Penguins

Tasty use of chia seeds? Check. Interesting blog name? Double check. No Pasta for Penguins takes a minty-fresh twist on the classic no-bake formula (something sticky + superfood powder + something oily + nuts) to create these high protein cocoa bars.

4. As they come.
Left pretty much to their own devices, chia seeds have a great crunchy-yet-silken quality that makes them idea for adding a little texture to any recipe.

Chia biscuits by Immer Wachsen

Chia biscuits by Immer Wachsen

Immer Wachsen grinds chia seeds up with psyllium husk and buckwheat to make gorgeous savoury biscuits that are topped with sun-dried tomatoes and avocado.

Blueberry protein smoothie by Country Cleaver

Blueberry protein smoothie by Country Cleaver

Whilst you can use chia gel in a smoothie in place of milk, it’s also fine to just throw in a teaspoon of them straight up, as shown by Country Cleaver in her blueberry protein smoothie recipe.

5. As a thickener / texturiser in sauces, dips and dressings.
Personally, I’ve been known to throw a tablespoon of chia seeds into bolognaise, ratatouille, soups and other such things that sometimes need a bit of thickening rather than adding cornflour or other powders. Turns out that’s just the tip of the potential iceberg as these bloggers show…

Blackberry Maple Chia Seed Jam by Going Home To Roost

Going Home To Roost has developed this simple and virtually instant chia seed jam recipe using the seeds as a thickener and flavoured with a variety of different berries, like blackberries and strawberries. Yum!

Chia seed dressing by Gimme Some Oven

Chia seed dressing by Gimme Some Oven

On a rather different note, Gimme Some Oven uses chia seeds in her Honey Chia Seed Vinaigrette to top her brain power salad not just for the health benefits, but also for texture.

Of course, you could just sprinkle them on your muesli in the morning but with all these mouthwatering and creative options, why stop there?

 

Wild Rice and Kale Skillet
Eat & Drink

5 Ways With Kale

Kale. You’ve heard of it, right? That dark green leafy vegetable that sort of looks like a cross between spinach and… seaweed. Incidentally, it’s not related to either but of the brassica family – its cousins include broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage. Unlike some other leaves you’ll find in the fruit and veg department however, kale is incredibly nutrient rich and has been shown to reduce the risk of five different kinds of cancer (namely bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate) as well as lowering cholesterol when steamed.

One cup of chopped kale contains: 206% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a massive 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of calcium as well as copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

But what do you do with it? Here are five ways some of our favourite food bloggers have been using it.

1. In a smoothie.
Get your greens in without even noticing.

Kale Slushy

Kale Slushy via Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit keeps it fresh and minty. They’ve also got 9 other great kale recipes.

Kale Smoothie

Kale Smoothie via Belle of the Kitchen

Belle of the Kitchen makes her kale smoothie creamy with bananas.

2. As a side dish
A little boost for those at your table who desire it.

Pan fried kale

Pan fried kale via The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ree Drummond keeps her kale dish super simple, fragrant and gluten free! We use this recipe with coconut oil instead.

Kale Salad with Lemon Almond and Pecorino

Kale Salad with Lemon Almond and Pecorino via Heather Christo

Heather Christo keeps her kale simple, but with zest. As a side note, Heather has written many times that she used to hate kale until she tried it raw…

3. In a salad
Alright, so sometimes a salad is a side dish… but it can be at least a substantial side dish if not a meal.

Strawberry Avocado and Kale Salad with Bacon Poppyseed Dressing

Strawberry Avocado and Kale Salad with Bacon Poppyseed Dressing via Lauren’s Latest

If the kale itself wasn’t interesting enough, Lauren takes the quirk (and deliciousness) factor over the edge with this salad that combines strawberries, avocado and bacon. Vegetarian? We love Kinda Bacon. Yum.

Wild Rice and Kale Salad

Wild Rice and Kale Salad via Pinch of Yum

If you’re into the whole sweet/savoury thing you’ll want to try this easy but impressive kale salad that also includes pomegranates.

4. In a main meal
Got a child or significant other that isn’t into their greens? Get smuggling.

Spaghetti with Kale

Spaghetti with Braised Kale via Dinner with Julie

This spaghetti with braised kale number probably isn’t smuggling so much as incorporating. With this much flavour though, we doubt anyone is worrying about the veggies.

Quinoa and Kale Minestrone

Quinoa and Kale Minestrone via Cooking Classy

Kale thrives in cooler temperatures so this quinoa and kale minestrone is perfect for winter. It’s vegan and gluten free, too!

Wild Rice and Kale Skillet

Wild Rice and Kale Skillet via Pinch of Yum

It’s not a soup, it’s not a salad, it’s not a casserole… it’s a hybrid. One part hot salad to one part stir fry to one part awesome. We’re crazy about Lindsay’s wild rice and kale skillet.

5. In a condiment
When you have a bunch of kale on your hands that you need to use or you just can’t get it in another way…

Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto via The Fancy Apron

This insanely easy and delicious kale pesto can be used on everything from sandwiches to pasta.

Kale Coriander and Chimichurri Sauce

Kale Coriander and Chimichurri Sauce via Naturally Ella

We’re rather fond of this kale, coriander (cilantro) and chimichurri sauce whipped up by Naturally Ella. (And those breakfast tacos look pretty incredible too). Looking for something with more bite? Try adding a green chilli to to the mix.

Greg Sanderson - Eau-de-Vie General Manager
Eat & Drink

Adults Only Tea

Greg Sanderson - Eau-de-Vie General Manager

Like tea? Don’t mind a nip of a cocktail now and then? Then the latest collaboration to hit our inboxes will delight you.

Exquisite (and notoriously hard-to-find) cocktail bar Eau-de-Vie has partnered with organic tea brand Nature’s Cuppa to create some delicious tea-based cocktails and one refreshingly tasty tea mocktail.

But that’s not even the best part… the mixologists at Eau-de-Vie are putting the action in your hands, sharing the recipes for you to make at home. You can thank us later.

Fairtrade Fix - Eau-de-Vie x Nature's Cuppa cocktail

Fairtrade Fix

Ingredients
60ml Gin
30ml Fresh lime juice
20ml Sugar syrup (1:1 water : sugar, dissolve sugar in warm water)
8 Mint leaves
60ml Nature’s Cuppa Earl Grey (brewed stronger than regular and chilled in fridge)
1 Scoop lemon sorbet

Method
Add the gin, Nature’s Cuppa Earl Grey tea, lime juice, sugar syrup, sorbet and mint to a tall glass and churn together with a spoon. Following this fill the glass with crushed ice and build until the glass is full. Garnish with lemon slices and a mint sprig.

The Green Harvest - Eau-de-Vie x Nature's Cuppa Cocktail

The Green Harvest

Ingredients
50ml Riesling
20ml Citrus vodka
2 Wedges of lemon
2 Teaspoon strawberry jam
60ml Nature’s Cuppa Green tea (brewed stronger than usual and chilled in fridge)
1 Teaspoon honey

Method
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake hard with crushed and cubed ice. Pour entire contents of the shaker into a wine glass. Garnish with seasonal fruits, mint, fancy straws and maybe even a mini meringue.

Teatotalist - Eau-de-Vie x Nature's Cuppa mocktail

Teatotalist

Ingredients
45ml Cranberry juice
45ml Apple juice
20ml Lime juice
15ml Sugar syrup
20ml Pear puree
75ml Nature’s Cuppa Peppermint tea

Method
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain over cubed ice in a tall glass. Garnish with an apple fan and mint sprig.

Easy but gorgeous weekday breakfast ideas - Water Glass Parfai
Eat & Drink

Weekday Breakfast Inspiration

Sick of cornflakes or toast being your first meal of the day Monday to Friday? Us too! That’s no way to start your workday! Here are our tips and some inspirational shots to up the ante on your 7.30am ritual…

Presentation matters – yes, you’re pressed for time but taking 30 seconds to make it look nice before you demolish it makes all the difference to making it feel that little more special. We’re into sticking our muesli / fruit / yoghurt combo into mason jars or even just water glasses to make it look like it just stepped out of a Pinterest board. Got a spare 3 minutes the night before? Pre-make it and get your bircher on. Put it in a jar with a lid and you have a beautiful take-to-work option too.

Make the basics special – whether it’s toast, granola or something else entirely, choose the gourmet option at the supermarket on Saturday and you’ll be thanking yourself all week. However you look at it, your average sliced bread is not going to get you excited about getting up or last you through to lunch.

With a twist – take your regular weekday breakfast, add a little something different and you have an instant bit of fun on your hands. If you usually eat regular muesli with a banana, why not throw it all in a blender with a leafy green  for your morning hit? Mix up your toppings – try cream cheese and berries or avocado with seeds on your toast and in-season fruit on your muesli. Trial different milks instead of cows on your cereal (there are many – soy, rice, almond… even coconut!).

Bring on Monday morning!

Wine matching for Christmas
Eat & Drink

Christmas Wine Matching

Wine matching for Christmas

Christmas is the perfect time to draw out some old gems from the cellar. It’s a time when there are often enough people in the room to share a special bottle, an aged magnum or even the odd fortified. The key to the festive season is to take your time and savour the moment.

For drinking with turkey…

I think every great celebration starts with a bottle of sparkling wine. Australian winemakers are crafting some exceptional sparkling and where your preference is for white, rose or red, you will find a home-grown wine to suit your menu and your budget. I am particularly partial to the Yellowglen 2006 Perle Rose (approx $20.00 AUD), a sparkling wine that has complexity and suppleness.

A still Rose is also something I will keep in the fridge to share.  I make one that blends Mourvedre, Grenache and Sangiovese, so it’s quite crunchy, and savoury. Served slightly chilled, it’s a great all-rounder to match salads and turkey with cranberry.

And now for the reds!  It’s generally a good idea to decant reds, even if they’re still young. As well as looking impressive, decanting a wine both aerates and lifts the temperature a little.  This can make a real difference to the aroma of the wines.  Decanting is important for aged wines, as deposits can develop during the ageing process.

If it’s a lunchtime red, then a lighter style, cool climate Shiraz, or Pinot Noir will do the trick. There is a bottle of Canberra Shiraz in my cellar that is tucked away for such an occasion. If it is for dinner, then maybe a Shiraz blend from the Barossa or Clare Valley or a Cabernet blend from Coonawarra or Margaret River is appropriate. Again, a wine with age is special and interesting, as you don’t always get the opportunity to taste older wines.

For something a little different I’ll be serving a chilled bottle of Sparkling Shiraz.  It’s a bit of a classic, and some of the best come from Great Western, Barossa and Clare Valley.  Incidentally, Australia is the only country that produces sparking shiraz. It’s a versatile wine that can be served with turkey, lamb, or dessert.  And, when the pudding comes out, either the sparkling Shiraz or a small glass of Rutherglen Muscat (around $20.00 AUD) is a great way to finish the evening.

For scoffing with seafood…

Riesling is one of my favourite wines to accompany seafood. Whether it’s fresh, fried, poached, shucked or cured, you can’t beat a Riesling.  The balance of natural acidity and citrus flavours in Riesling perfectly matches the richness of seafood.

One of the great attributes of Riesling is their ability to age. The 2005 Rieslings are complex with toasty characters , while the 2009 Rieslings are just coming into themselves. The 2012 are still widely available and a great value.  They have great flavour and will appeal to many white wine drinkers while the 2013s are fresher in style with plenty of citrus aromas and flavours. While Clare might rule Riesling supreme, the Rieslings from Tasmania are also very exciting and there are plenty of new producers providing interesting and complex wines. There are also plenty of producers making Riesling in a ‘euro’ way and using techniques to fill out the wine creating richer styles. These are also worth exploring.

Another wine I would keep on hold is an aged Semillon. Whether from the Hunter Valley, Barossa or Clare Valley, Semillon has a proud history in Australia and we have made some excellent wines that are aging gracefully. Perfect with yabbies or marron.

For irrigating a loooooong lazy lunch…

Australia has many new emerging regions and varieties and the long lazy lunch is the perfect opportunity to sample these wines. When not restricted by a formal menu, anything goes!

I like to choose two or three varieties that guests may not have tried before and then let the wines speak for themselves.

Fiano is a really versatile wine that goes fabulously well with seafood and Italian dishes, but can also hold its own with foods normally associated with red wine, such game birds.  Likewise, Gruner Veltiner and Lagrein, make a great match for strongly flavoured meats and terrines. Gruner Veltiner and spicy food is a match made in culinary heaven.  Tempranillo, Montepulciano are great options for red drinkers and work beautifully with grilled meats, anything tomato based and a broad range of cheeses.

Try the Saltram Fiano from the Barossa, and Basham Montepulciano from the Riverland.  Both are great examples of emerging varieties, and a lot of fun to drink.

Merry Christmas and cheers!

Alex Mackenzie is the Chief Winemaker at Annie’s Lane in South Australia’s Clare Valley.