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Phu Vinh

Date: Thu, Jun 13, 2013 Wine Tasting



North of the Perth, off Alexander drive in amongst the various light industrial workshops is a small retail strip. Blink and it's gone. There's a Polish grocer, a tackle shop, Nandos and a cluster of small Asian restaurants. Phu Vinh seems to be the busiest. . .

There's an initial disconcerting smell. I can't decide if it's urine, body odour or just a stale cloth that has been used to wipe all the tables. I sit and am not sure that I'm seen. I order and am not sure I've been heard. The waitress is stepping away and turning as my words are being uttered. . . The food and everything else I happened to order arrives promptly; stale and unwashed is replaced with star anise, shallots and the scent rising from the darkly coloured broth. Mi Vit Tiem (#65, or Egg noodle soup with braised duck). It's only $11 dollars, laden with shitake and MSG, and the duck meat is still to relax. Presumably more slow cooking would resolve the knots, but for the price and speed it's hard to complain.

Related.

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Jean-Paul Brun Morgon 2011

Date: Wed, Jun 12, 2013 Wine Tasting


The last of a quartet (1+2,3). I've liked something about all of them, but perhaps this being the most recent would be my favourite. To begin it's pretty, with rose petals and cherries, it possesses a calming and life affirming brightness and freshness, while in the mouth it is tart and sappy, lean and correct. Of course there is nothing profound, but surely only a crank could express displeasure. . .

Image: more than a hint of bokeh. . . I'm beginning to realise that even more expensive than a wine habit is an interest in photography.

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Co-op dining

Date: Wed, Jun 12, 2013 Wine Tasting


A quiet street, a dark room and serious food. Co-op is the better heeled urban sibling to Dear Friends, and the similarities are obvious. Chef likes to use bricks of salt for presentation and the focus is very much on the local and home made with an emphasis on technique. There is obvious meticulous sourcing of produce supported by in house cheeses, butters, tofu and the like.

The wine list is well considered, geographically arranged and with modest markups. The latest Grosset Polish Hill is listed for $89 while the pictured Gris Noir is $A55.

Coincidentally there was a review of Co-op in one of the weekend papers. Lethlean suggested they could loosen up. Complaining that the restaurant seemed too reverential. Even though the food is intricate and calculated I would have to concur. I'm weary of the false theatre that has become an unwelcome feature of fine dining (in Perth). I don't want to be told what I should be tasting in my wine and what temperature it should be served at, I don't want to be told where the fish on my plate was caught or what sort of cow supplied the milk for the butter. . . I just want to enjoy the food and wine and the company of my friends. I want to draw my own conclusions and make my own observations without unnecessary intrusion.

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Comfort

Date: Mon, Jun 10, 2013 Wine Tasting


When we get sick we regress. We shed responsibility, take to bed and crave comfort, company and clean sheets. It's no surprise that the foods which give the most satisfaction are the simplest and most like baby food. For me it has got to be a bowl of very plain congee. The only permitted additions being a few pieces of poached chicken, spring onion and white pepper. . .

How?

To four litres of simple and mostly unsalted Chinese chicken stockadd 1 cup of washed and uncooked white rice. Bring to the boil and keep at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook till the rice is well and truly gruel like (about 2 hours) and then serve.

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Domaine La Pousse d'Or Santenay 1er Cru Clos Tavannes

Date: Sun, Jun 9, 2013 Wine Tasting


A half bottle before the start of another school week. It's more approachable than its more esteemed and expensive sibling. It's fresh and new and an odd amalgam of pert and plump. Stewed berries, especially raspberry, it's mostly clean but there's a welcome suggestion of animal and hide. Fleshy and round to open, midpalate spice and a sappy, zippy parchment like finish. Well proportioned and quite convincing for what it is.



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Postcard: Kyilla Market

Date: Fri, Jun 7, 2013 Wine Tasting


Day 1 of the Kyilla farmers market. Plenty of families and children and a palpable energy and happiness. They even sell a village olive oil made from local North Perth (and Mount Lawley) fruit. It's $15 for a small bottle; the oil is quite nutty and peppery.

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Domaine A & P De Villaine Côte Chalonnaise Les Clous 2007

Date: Thu, Jun 6, 2013 Wine Tasting


It's obvious of course, but still something I had never given consideration:

Licking a mineral or rock surface gives a tactile sensation but this is not a taste. Freshly polished surfaces of rocks (say limestone, granite or slate) or of minerals (say quartz, calcite, or feldspar) cannot be distinguished by the tongue or by smell. (Maltman)

And yet my tasting notes are littered with mentions of rocks, stones and even shell. I was even silly enough to say the pictured wine tasted like a stone and stung like a bee. . . According to Alex Maltman With very exceptions, minerals - in both a geological and nutrient senses - lack flavours.

Having just read Maltman's paper, I've resisted the urge to scribble mineral. . . The wine is clean and I can still detect a saltiness that makes me think of the ocean. To start pear and pineapple and a struck match; but later it's mostly Fino sherry and the sea. Wax and quince paste. . . nutty in the mouth with nougat, citrus and salt.

Image: Shells and stones have no taste.
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Squeaky cheese

Date: Tue, Jun 4, 2013 Wine Tasting


Apparently earth quakes and squeaky cheese are examples of the same phenomenon, albeit at different ends of the seismic scale. Slip-stick or stick-slip phenomenon - where something resists a force and then suddenly moves rapidly before halting again. If its cheese, especially halloumi, it squeaks. . .

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Zucchini pasta

Date: Thu, Apr 25, 2013 Wine Tasting

fried breadcrumbs

Grated zucchini a simple tomato sugo and garlic and anchovy breadcrumbs.

Sugo. Using a Thermomix. Blitz 3 cloves of garlic, add a slug of olive oil and cook at 100 degrees for 2 minutes at speed 1. Pour in the contents of a 400g tin of diced tomatoes and cook at Speed 1 and 100 degrees for 15 minutes. Toss in a handful of washed basil leaves and turn the speed to 8 for 20 seconds.

Breadcrumbs. Lightly toast two slices of white bread. Tear apart and add to Thermomix. Add 4 peeled cloves of garlic and 6 anchovy fillets. Process at speed 6 for 10-15 seconds. Tip the contents into a fry pan and add a liberal amount of olive oil. Perhaps 50-60 mls, until the crumbs are well coated. Fry and stir, removing once the crumbs are well browned, but before the garlic burns.


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Can you lick your nose?

Date: Wed, Apr 24, 2013 Wine Tasting


How about your elbow? Apparently one in ten particularly supple humans can do so. Presumably it gets more uncommon as you age and stiffen. Dogs and cows and of course pigs are naturally blessed with the ability to place tongue to nose, but in humans it is less common. . .

Being able to lick your nose can also be an indicator of disorder. It's a common sign in those with Ehlers Danlos for instance. It also carries an eponymous name - Gorlin sign, though this is not well known or easily remembered.

Supple wines like humans are in the minority. It's easier to be short, stiff, tart or fat. . . Supple is hard to do. I don't think it's necessarily terroir or grape and I'm sure it is not just related to alcohol acid and tanninas Peynaud suggests. I've had supple Pinot noir (1,2,3), Carignan, Cabernet and I seem to recall a supple Malbec though I did not use the word.

In my mind a supple wine has curves and flow rather than weight and heat, it's not overly fatty or dense but it seems to move and have an effortless give and grace. It's like a silk serpentand when it is almost perfect it has a languid and relaxed, coiled uncoiled quality about it. Something with softness, bend and spring. In my mind, it's never skeletal.

Returning to Peynaud'sformulation on suppleness for a moment - too little and the drink feels thin and jarring, angular and awkward. At the other extreme too much and the wine starts to lose shape becoming overly hot, disjointed and diffuse.

In theory all wines will have some level of suppleness. In practice it is a term I tend to use sparingly. Six supples and two pliants in over 1300 tasting notes. . .

Apologies for all the linked text, but some related posts on - Minerality, Line, BalanceandSpoofulated.

Image.

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Jean-Paul Brun Bourgogne 2011

Date: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 Wine Tasting


I love the label and the 1930s typography. I suspect there have been others, but this is the first art deco style label that I can recall. The wine itself is enjoyable enough, though as advertised it is neither grand or profound.

Medium red, clean and fragrant. Ginger spice and by nights end, ham. Slightly hard and abrasive to begin, it feels raw and unpolished. Forward and assertive, though it does soften in time developing a smudged and charcoal tail. Compared to the similarly priced but quite exceptional Fanny Sabre, it lacks grace, style and softness.

12%. Cork. Approx $A35.
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Wild Duck

Date: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 Wine Tasting


Translocated 400 kilometres from a quiet street in Albany to a quiet street in suburban Perth. . .

I hope it does well, but I suspect it will struggle. The decor is dated and sombre - dark wood everywhere, and the over head fans give the room a disconcerting flicker. The wall art (on one wall an image of a whisk and opposite a fork) looks cheap and though there are plenty of wooden ducks and bottles of wine to greet the eye, the wine list itself is sadly unexciting to read.

The service and food is very good, just safe and unsurprising and with too long a gap between courses.

The pictured smoked seafood chowder the night's opening trick. I found the seafood within over cooked and tough. More success and pleasure later in the night from the slow cooked pork belly and the braised beef cheek.

The 6 course degustation with sorbet palate cleanser is $A105, which is comparable in price to the competition. As to composition it seems a course or two short and though there are foams and jellies on the plate and the obligatory sous vide meat course, it feels dated and hollow. The lack of bread to open the meal is also a very minor, but notable negative in my eyes.

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Jezebelle

Date: Fri, Apr 19, 2013 Wine Tasting

Sufficiently sweet and away from the centre of Perth, that it might be considered a wallflower. I found it to be free of pretence and false gesture and left smiling and content. The theme is tapas and there is a short menu of perhaps 20 plates, ranging from $2 for crusty bread to $24 for the daily paella. The room is stylish and mostly black, but there is the occasional well judged splash of colour. The staff are free floating and responsive and the food, water and wine arrive with little delay. Being large in number and appetite we ate our way through most of the menu. The only weak plate on the night was the crispy cuttlefish, which seemed overly tough; and perhaps the hot salmon corn cakes which were proficient but bland. I was pleasantly surprised by the cut of the room and the overall quality of the food. It's well worth a visit, even though there is little else to do in the area at night. In regards to wine, the list is short but well constructed. Eight whites and eight reds by the glass with an emphasis on Western Australia and a nod to Spain.

Tasting note: 2011 Faber Riche Shiraz(14.5%. Swan Valley.) A black wine with a pleasing combination of sweet cherry and boldness. My drinking companion thought there was a whiff of naphthalene, which while curious seems only additive and at this stage, all the more endearing.

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Dinner

Date: Thu, Apr 18, 2013 Wine Tasting


I last cooked this in 2007. I dare not look at the expiration date on the black vinegar that I bought then and used for the second time tonight. . . Cellaring wine with all it's variables tends to alter your trust in best by dates. . . I'll always follow my nose over any labelling.
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