Tag Archives: Food

I Found a Golden Ticket! Chocolate Induced Endorphin Rush … The Lindt Experience

9 Nov


What a gift … 2 vouchers to a Lindt Chocolate Experience … Thanks Sis.



It all started in a pretty orderly fashion. Neat tables laid out with all the tools needed to make your own block of chocolate, samples to get the juices flowing and an apron.  I guess the apron should have been a warning of what was to come …

First up a quick hello from Lindt’s Master Chocolatier in Australia, Thomas Schnetzler. Thomas is one of those guys that has a real passion for what he does. You can see it in the glint in his eye and the curiosity for finding new chocolatey flavour combination. Given my winemaking background I can really relate to how wonderful it can be to create something that delights the senses and that can be enthusiastically shared with others.

There was no messing around with Thomas, who put us straight to work … if you could call it that!  Like kids in a candy shop, pardon the pun, we were given a chocolate mould filled with molten chocolate and given the mission of creating our own special block of Lindt Chocolate.  With a pallet of treats to sprinkle on top like good and happy little Oompa Loompas we went to work.  There were plenty of ingredients to choose from: crisp crepe wafers, liquorice, chilli and salt to roasted almonds, honey coated macadamias, candied rose petals and yes even that old child-hood favourite hundreds and thousands,

I think M’s grade 1’s could have probably done a neater job then me! M & P’s looked very professional, but more on that later.


Thomas’s passion for the product came through again as he guided us through first tasting, then making chocolate from Pod to Bar, with samples of each raw ingredient to play with along the way. There’s something about the 100% cocoa liquor that pushes the right buttons for me.  Kinda like my love of good Barolo, when you get to the extremes they can be intense, crazy experiences that are very pure.

Tasting in a nutshell 1. Look at it … you want a matt finish, not too shiny, no bloom and no bubbles (unless it’s an Aero Bar) 2. Feel it, by rubbing it between your fingers and melting a bit hoping for no gritty bits 3. Snap it – looking for a clean break, no splinters and the sound of a good snap 4. Sniff it, smelling for yumminess 5. Gobble it … go slow a couple of little munches and then roll it around your gob letting it melt so you can appreciate the flavours and texture. Lindt’s website has some fun tasting videos, but, there’s nothing like learning from the professionals.

From bottom right a couple of broken up Cocoa Nibs, a pile of roughly crushed cocoa, a splodge of cocoa liquor, the white cocoa butter, some cocoa powder and some of the end product.


It’s interesting that like wine and coffee, terroir is starting to receive growing appreciation for chocolate. Single origin chocolates have been around for a while, but, we’re not really seeing estate chocolates. Can’t wait to see more of those. Just like tasting wine it’s great to try more than one at a time, gives you something to compare against. Lindt has been trialing single origin chocolate. Sampling Lindt’s 70% Madagascar alongside the standard 70% bar, I could see more depth and length of flavour, along with a more lucious mouthfeel from a little more Cocoa Butter. It seemed just that little bit more expressive. It was funny to see that the 70%, a good chocolate in any line up, appeared sugar sweet rather being rich in flavour by comparison. Reminded me of wines that are tricked up with sugar to fill out the palate, not that it was.


The other relatively new offering from Lindt was a Sea Salt chocolate using proper Fleur de Sel.  Man it rocks, like salted caramel, the salt brings out the flavour and adds a real savouriness.

I wish Kennedy & Wilson a rocking local producer of Chocolate, based in the Yarra Valley, were still doing their Bergamot Dark Chocolate Stars … ORGASMIC!

By this stage I Started buzzing a bit, cocoa coursing through my veins, with more on the way in the form of a silky chocolate mousse! Then the next challenge some hardcore flavour blending, making ganache fillings for Macarons.  Thomas let us loose on another palate of flavours!  After three attempts I had one win, one OK and one, well let’s say it needed some work.  The winner Pistachio and Salt, the OK Rose Water and Candied Rose, the one that needed work Lemon, Hazelnut and Salt.  The lemon essence in alcohol had a killer bitterness, I reckon with the right raw material the combo could work.  Sort of like Frangelico and Lime.


Judgement Day … I’ll be back! … Thomas to the floor.  Casting his eye over our chocolate bar creations from the beginning of the night to choose a winner, his choice, none other than my Sis who walked away with an autographed book full of Chocolate Yumminess Recipes from Lindt’s Maitre Chocolatiers around the world.

The night ended with all of us in a … CHOCOLATE INDUCED ENDORPHIN RUSH … the Lindt Chocolate Experience was just that a great experience.  Thanks to Thomas and the staff at Lindt on Chapel Street for looking after our mess and the bag of goodies to gobble on the way home!


Mirka at Tolarno – Guy Grossi does it again! Let the Food do the Talking! Yumminess!

3 Nov


Guy Grossi does it again!  Sesnational lunch at Mirka.  When you walk into Mirka at Tolarno you feel like your in a cartoon, but in a happy kind of way, it’s a kinda funny environment, the walls covered in colourful frescos, like the one in the photo (portrait of Maree at the moment just 10 weeks out from our first child being fully baked).  They were actually painted by Mirka Mora, one of Melbourne’s food legends.

There’s a casual confidence and genuine interest in your experience from staff, sometimes, a little too relaxed, it took a while to get our initial service, but from then on we were rock ‘n’ roll. Crunchy polenta chips with rosemary herbed salt helped get the juices flowing.  Mirka is a great example of letting the food do the talking, simple, well put together dishes with quality ingredients and flavour that makes you feel happy.


In reality this was a menu where I would have happily eaten anything and hope to eat everything (…over time).  At the end of the day I couldn’t go past Cassoulet, particularly after having just kicked off Confiting my own Duck a few months ago … late starter on that one.  FYI Confiting Duck is the process of slow poaching, typically the leg and thigh, in oil infused with herbs, salt and pepper.  You end up with beautifully tender, moist Duck which can then be finished in a pan to crisp up, used in a Cassoulet or stored in a jar to devour some time in the future.  Mirka’s Cassoulet comes with a thick 12 cm long strip of lardon which was fully of smokey goodness. The haricourt beans and sauce where rich and the crunch of the bread crumbs on top was a great textural component.  And yes the duck was awesome with a tasty disc of sausage thrown into the mix.  My duck gland, a real mood alterer, was well satisfied.

Fried rabbit with a salsa verde and lemon juice with a bit of ‘slaw on the side was the perfect remedy for a heavy head post cup day. I gotta go shoot me some rabbits, such a delicious meat.

Best of all were the fries, seasoned with black truffle and just the right amount of salt, served with a soft boiled googey for running yolk dipping yumminess.


Took me back to last time I was in Alba hoovering egg pasta and truffles, fried eggs and truffles, everything and more truffles with Barolo from magnum.  The pictures below were taken during the Truffle Festival in Alba, Piedmont, during a visit to Italy for the Salone del Gusto, Slow Foods bi-annual food, producer and fun megafesta.


The wines by the glass at Mirka were a bit limited on the Euro side, but, we found a tasty half bottle (I know) of 2008 Chianti from Felsina to wash down some tasty tucker.  The wine list is well balanced with a diversity and depth of Euro and Aussie wine we wouldn’t have seen on wine lists 15 years ago. Plenty of good value at the bottom end with some Filthy Good Vino at the top end if you felt like throwing around a bit of coin.

Couldn’t resist dessert.  I would have had stinky cheese if the Mrs wasn’t pregnant and firing daggers at me across the table every time I even thought about it.  Epoisse, one of my favourite mega skunky gooey cheeses from Burgundy was on a short but quality cheese list.  To give you an idea of just how stinky Epoisse is, I believe, it is banned from public transport and taxis in France.

We went for Gelato churned on location (Wild Strawberry, Rhubarb, Marscapone with a hint of Lemon, Dulce du Lecce and PX flavours), Honey and Chocolate Semi-freddo and the Bomb.  All were well balanced, delicious, yummy and beautifully textured.  Put it this way, I was about to explode, but there was nothing left on the plates.


Mirka and Guy – Thanks for Letting the Food do the Talking. We’ll be back!  Make sure you’ve got at least 2 hours, with some good friends, to savour some honest, tasty cooking.



You’ve gotta love a lucious Roast Pumpkin Rissotto with Crunchy Jamon, topped with Sage in Burnt Butter and Toasted Pinenuts – Smashed out by the Mrs

22 Oct


You’ve gotta love a lucious risotto. Yummy start to Saturday night. Inspiration for Halloween! Very sexy roast pumpkin rissotto!

DARIO IS COMING! I’m celebrating with a 1kg T-Bone for Dinner! Food for the soul – Just Drooled on the Keyboard!

21 Oct


If you want a Bistecca Fiorentina (otherwise known as a T-Bone) experience, be warned you my cry tears of joy, and you happen to be in Panzano, Tuscany, Italy, Dario Cecchini is your man.

Dario is coming for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival this year. So everyone has a chance to experience meat perfection.  I’m starting celebrations early and kicking off with a 1kg Bistecca Fiorentina for dinner tonight.


The man loves meat, loves and respects the animals it comes from.

OK … Apologies in advance for waxing lyrical … but … A visit to Dario’s butchers shop is an experience to pleasure all your senses. There is nothing better than being greeted with a glass of vino and something sensational from a cow to munch on!

Check out the memorial to the T-Bone that rests on the wall of his Macelleria, it translates roughly to I’d rather die than be invalidated (have the bone removed) and was erected during the Mad Cows Disease heyday. The other pic was the remains of a 1kg Bistecca Fiorentina consumed at La Fontina in Florence with Porcini shrooms … I just drooled on the keyboard!!

… and the VERY HAPPY end results of todays beef celebrations … One AWESOME rare to blue T-Bone, broad beans with lemon zest, a splash of juice, salt, pepper, Grana Padano & a glug of oil. All washed down with an Aglianico from Pipoli – Juicy fresh fruit, great balance with acid and some crazy but yummy tannin (for a bit over a $10er from Bocaccio Cellars) sensational steak vino.

Burch & Purchese for dessert

11 Oct


Kinda ironic that one of Melbourne’s best patisseries is located right opposite liposuction Australia. Couldn’t resist picking up a platter of yumminess to share with the Mrs and Raspberry magnum with popping candy for the ride home.

Check them out if you’re in the neighbourhood:


647 Chapel Street, South Yarra.