Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Celebration time

Yikes. Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. The month of May is a big month for me so I've been super busy. You see, it’s my birth month! Yes, that’s right, I like to celebrate my birth over the course of an entire month. Why limit yourself to one day of fun and festivities and being the center of attention when you can prolong it over a few weeks? I mean, my birth was a pretty important occasion in my life so I think it deserves more than a meager day's recognition.

This year I decided to go with a theme for my birth month. Actually, I didn’t decide on the theme beforehand, but looking back, a clear and definite theme emerged. And it is… dun dun DUNNNN…. WINE & FOOD! Shocker, I know, I know, not what you expected, but I like to think I can throw a curveball every once in awhile.

So, on the actual anniversary of the day of my birth, my mates and I went on a whirlwind food and wine tour of McLaren Vale. We rented a car and my buddy Peter offered to be DD as my birthday present. He also offered to deal with the antics of a rogue female trio of Indian, Peruvian, and Puerto Rican hillbilly descent whose antics became increasingly louder and looser as the day wore on. I think the three of us talk more when we're together than my mom, aunt, and grandma talk when they're together. Peter has the patience of a saint.

Unfortunately, this particular day happened to literally be the worst weather day any of us had experienced since moving to Oz. Constant rain and wind, along with uncharacteristic chilliness, had me worried. Not because this was the first time Peter, a Canadian used to driving on the right side of the road, would take his place behind the wheel. I was concerned because Meagan informed me that, in Denmark, the saying goes that the weather on your birthday is representative of how you have behaved over the course of the previous year. Oh, no! Was I really THAT bad in 2007-2008?!

Our first stop was for coffee at Blessed Cheese.

We then headed to Samuel’s Gorge on the recommendation of our friend and classmate Marion who lives in McLaren Vale. She was spot on when she told us it was one of the cutest little wineries in the Vale. I forged an immediate friendship with Fido.

We hung out quite a bit….

But then I noticed the crusty nasties in his eyeballs and feared he would give me a wicked communicable disease if we continued our relationship, thus ruining my birth month, so I immediately cut our love affair short. I consoled myself with the lovely 2006 Grenache and a delightful 2004 shiraz.

The time got away from us, and we ended up spending three hours here chatting with the cool Belgian lady running the cellar door. Peter was such a good abstainer. THANKS AGAIN!

We braved the elements to get a girlie shot in front of the gorge.

After a failed lunch attempt at Coriole, supplanted by a tasting of their dessert wines…

… we quieted our growling tummies at The Salopian Inn. I had my first taste of lambs’ brains here – breaded and fried and yummy. Such a creamy fatty texture. But, um, ma and pa, I don’t think you would’ve liked them.

Next stop: Primo Estates. Our friend Marion’s boyfriend is the general manager here. Very funky modern building, quite a contrast to Samuel’s Gorge.

They’re well known across Australia for their Joseph olive oil, and eventual financial success for me means being able to someday afford a bottle of it. We sampled a new batch that had been squeezed just a couple weeks earlier. The color is a shocking and unexpected fluorescent green, and the fresh grassy flavor is cut by an intense peppery note at the back of your throat.

We then made a beeline for the beach so we could catch a glimpse of it before the sun set. Unclad bathing is just fine by me (I actually prefer unclad to Speedo-clad), but for some weird reason the combination of a nude beach and a revegetation project in the same location weirded me out. Call me crazy?

Anyway it was way too cold to even consider nudity so we soaked up the view fully swathed in our sweaters and hats.

I was inclined to drink more wine. The Victory Hotel was nearby and offered a nice selection of local wines. Meagan picked out a Pinot gris for the crew and we enjoyed it while the rain pounded deafeningly on the metal roof.

Hey, share with me, it’s my birthday!!!

Dinner was at The Hundred Eaves. Marion joined us since it’s just down the road from her place…

My roast lamb was quite a treat but the highlight was Peter’s kangaroo. Cooked perfectly rare and scrumptiously moist.

After dinner, Marion invited us back to her house for some super special cheese she brought for us from Bottega Rottolo. We also had some wine. Just keepin’ with the theme, you know. This cheese was A-MA-ZING. Just AMAZING. L’Edel de Cleron, smooth, creamy, pungent, HEAVENLY.

After gorging on cheese for a few hours, we headed back into Adelaide to cap off the night. Amy had baked me a cake – yes, this is homemade! Coffee and chocolate! She’s a master!

And that was it for day one of my celebration. Upon further consideration, gale force winds and pounding rain didn’t mean I had misbehaved during the ’07-’08 year. On the contrary, South Australia has been in a drought for years. Rain was the best weather they could have possibly asked for. So, I guess I wasn’t so bad after all.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthmonth!

McLaren Vale is the perfect place to celebrate anything time you should try some of the eats on offer at The Victory, especially love the homemade pate there.

Heading to The Abyssinian next week, will let you know how I find it!

Cari said...

Hey Jess! Will be heading back to McLaren Vale for the Sea & Vines festival on Monday... can't get enough!

Can't wait to hear how you find Abyssinian!

Anonymous said...

How was your Sea & Vines experience? We went on Sunday and only managed Coriole and Woodstock, it was crazy busy at both! Woodstock definitely had a better atmosphere, and the best rose!

The Abyssinian was great fun last night...some of the dishes were surprisingly spicy, but I loved eating with hands and injera, and thought the flavours were excellent. From what I understand, the people working there were the owners, and even had their kids out the back! Its great to support people working hard to provide a unique experience like that, I will definitely return.

Speaking of novelty meals, have you been to Ming's Steamboat on Gouger yet?