Wednesday, 6 May 2015

6th May 2015
I always go my own way.
I won't respond to words, trend or popular opinion.
I change my shade.
Gain weight with rain.
Lovable and giving in the warmth.
I respond respectively to the sun and soil.
I shan't ask for much,
But I will give you my all.
We wouldn't get far without the green and perpetual.
Providing our food and air.
In this lovely instance, hydrating us wonderfully.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

What a Wine' Weed
27th February 2015
Vineyards - a world of weeds going wild. Such speed and delicate creativity in their grasp - cordon wires, neighbouring limbs and human heads. Vigorous, leafy, giving and - wild!
Edie @ Birdsey's Vineyard
     I commenced my days in the McLaren Vale Vines with Fiona Wood and David Swan mid-late last year. Out of curiosity more than interest at the time and the general requirement of something to supplement a part time wage. I traipsed between Angove Vineyard, Foreman's, Birdsey's and Tullah Estate from the stages of late Spring or the 'grand period of growth' until now -VINTAGE.
    Each varietal of vine generally shot out laterals and leaf as speedily as each other up until flowering. Re-visiting the same blocks of young 1-3 year old babies proved that their growth spurts are truly that. Centimetres of growth each day, stretching out for the sun to make us wine! How beautiful.
    Under Fiona's watchful eye, I learnt her art of training young vines into the fruitful two cordoned trunk. Her method, different to many is to encourage the vines with diligence and regular care at this early age, to facilitate their reaching the wire as soon as possible. Taking shape due to rapid, trained growth very early, also being beneficial for the root system strength for the following season after their dormancy.
    The fruit of the Carignan, Touriga, Grenache and Shiraz at Angove's began taking shape of their respective bunch character by November. By December the distinct cluster formation and length difference and speed of development very apparent. Grenache and Carignan turgid and tight alongside one another - full and round. Shiraz and Cabernet tend to 'hang' long and loosely in with their siblings, more flaccid than the alternate varieties, richer and even in their purple/ black hues.
Grenache @Angove Family Wines
    Heat let herself in when she pleased over the December, January and February months, with little warning but plenty of presence. The race to keep water to all the blocks during these emergency calls was awful to watch, as some grapes poached themselves or fried within a day, leaves turned to filo pastry and yield plummeted. However, the generally moderate 'Summer' conditions resulted in a healthy and balanced build of sugar and retention of acid.
Cabernet Sauvignon heat affected.
    Highlights of the few weeks leading to the pick of each variety was the delicious sampling of the odd grape. Detecting the influence the soil, facing of the vine, vineyard location, vine age and care resulted in wildly differing flavours between even the same varietal. After heat, the rapid sugar build becomes evident on the palate. Flabby flavour results in examples of commercial vines pointed out to me, where the vine isn't bunch thinned sufficiently and acid development has lapsed. Jammy and porty in extreme cases.
The vines are fruit bare once again. The juices of their bunches will keep them afloat for future seasons once macerated, oaked?, aged and bottled. This year and for the years ahead, I will proudly be able to sample some of this hard work, love & risk, from a glass. Having helped them along a little... Understanding the tirelessness of the teams and vines involved to create that perfumed drop. 
A vine may be a weed - but she is a needy and clever one at that.   

Saturday, 11 October 2014

12th October 2014
What happens behind the scenes to pull a certain something together - is the marvellous element of art that perhaps holds one perplexed.
The annual Art Exhibition at ‘Cluain’ – a picturesque backdrop of green, life and activity is a stage for such pieces and their masters. This year on the Macdonald family farm, Hamish & Christa welcomed participating Artisits to reside for several days to prepare the farmyard lacuna for those to marvel.
From the Shearing Quarters and veranda, through the pasture around the goose pond where one could interact with the feathered honkers with a sound piece by Sculpturer Mark de Nys. Looping over the cattle grid and through Hamish’s tin and paint splattered room of requirement. Evidently, a master’s studio, where time is lost and form found. This section of the sculpture walk had every Exhibition punter chin wobbling.

The Shearing Shed opened her doors and walls to Michael Collett’s still life photography of fruits that he has cultivated on his Barossa property. Rose Ampt as the local Milliner from Millicent. Gray Hawk Furniture design, one tenderly touched for its flawlessness. Lady Jewellers, Kerrie McCarthy and Kirsty MacCurdie with swarming females for silver and shine. Yet again, further Mark de Nys sculpture that spells out patience and timeless like no other.

The breeze maintained the movement and olfactory experience of a sheep’s domain in the tall, timber and iron structure. The wool clusters swept the unswept floor and down the shoots as people created movement.

My efforts with the bean of caffeine were of that rewarding nature. The assemblage of my Hottop Coffee Roaster helped with the explaining of that behind the scenes work of your morning latte. My contribution to ART IN THE STICKS was palatable, offering difference to the two and three dimensional forms over the weekend.

Of palatable offerings, Simon Burr with a knife and a mobile kitchen took to the cook of a Sunday Long Lunch in the shearing shed. Ninety three sat to two LOoooNG trestles, dressed for a day of colour. Platters to share of pearl white new season Lobster, oysters, prawns. Mussels and cockles in broth. A ‘Cluain’ steer called ‘Lunch’ certainly lived up to that expectation. Simon kneaded Ciabbatta and Pane Pugliesi breads for mopping up a Red wine glaze that had simmered for days.
The artists dined amongst the guests.


Josh Rawiri played string and didge as melody for chewing and chatter.
All tools were down as diners and weary exhibitors drifted out into a dimming farm yard. A Hamish Macdonald with a jerry can on a buzzing motorbike cleared the air with a douse of juice and a light. A pyramid of dead red gum limbs created a framework for flame, warmth and spark. To finish several days on a note of such couldn't have been better.

ART IN THE STICKS - long weekend, October - annually.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Art in the Sticks
Annual art exhibition on the Macdonald family property 'Cluain' - October Long Weekend
27th August
The Exhibition is on a narrow and steep path of approach. The elements that give the exhibition its pulse are throbbingly close.
The 'Sunday Long Lunch' in the Shearing Shed is amping up in fare and numbers this year, so the preparation is exciting and involved.  
Simon and I have the surface ripened Jersey Brie cheeses growing their fury coats before their wrap. 
I helped Hamish Macdonald himself recently with a stock move on 'Cluain' where I cast eyes on the delicious beast for the feast, roaming and grazing on second stage perennial pasture, very healthily.
Flyers are proceeding past the proof stage and printing within the week.
A little warmth is urging the veg growth.
Hamish is painting.
We are darn excited and we hope you are too!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Carbon Dioxide & Coffee 
 Is it an undesirable carbonation
July 2014
Which method of storage benefits medium roast coffee, given that their maximal consumable age is of 23 days?
This experiment is to validate that coffee is not undesirable when at its maximal age for consumption given storage is suitable, as decided by the team at De Groot Coffee Co.
Does CO2 reabsorption within a sealed, valve-less environment speed up the staling process once the bucket is open, or taint the coffee? (for this length of time specified)
Does coffee stored in a one way valved package taste superior to the alternate methods considered? For all the bloody obvious reasons...
Does a completely open vessel, where CO2 and O2 can diffuse on an unrestrained concentration gradient, reach an undesirable staleness by the 23 days?
Does allowing 72 hours post roast, degas time in an open environment before sealing airtight the bucket, create a better environment for the coffee, as major CO2 has transpired, perhaps reducing the reabsorption of CO2 over the next 21 day period?
The Subjects
Tasting each of the following samples at 23 days of storage to assess the quality of the cup and how it reflects its storage environment.
 S1 = Airtight container, (no valve)
S2 = Non airtight container, lid slightly ajar for entire period
S3 = Open container
S4 = control (age controlled) non aged beans in Airtight container (1 week)
S5 = 1 way Valved bag
S6 = Airtight container packed 5 days post roasting, allowing time to degas before sealing.
S1 Airtight will best perform. The inability for O2 to penetrate the bean being the advantage. However, S1 could be prone to staling faster than others as the high CO2 levels within the bean play havoc.
S5 Valved and S2 Non airight I expect quite similar results for the length of such an exercise. S5 Valved losing more CO2 than S1 Airtight, but for the length of experiment, I doubt any taste influence will be detrimentally detectable. S3 Open will be a palatable experience, but perhaps a notch below what I expect from S2 Non airtight. S3 being such a small mass in a very large breathing volume.

Results: Cupped
Cup 1 = S5 Valved bag. Poor results after Break. Flat.
Cup 2 = S3 Open container. Similar to S5. Flat all the way through however.
Cup 3 = S4 Control RD 30/7. As predicted, most outstanding on the table.
Cup 4 = S1 Airtight. Very surprising how this coffee held the field in wet & dry aromas for intensity. Notes revealing 'stock like' & 'meaty'. Terrible on second & third passes as the liquid cooled. Least desirable on the table.
Cup 5 = S2 Lid Ajar container. Third preferred coffee. Lovely, full break & cupped with lovely acidity.
Cup 6 = S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) container. Winning coffee after the predicted sample S4 Control. Aromatics not particularly strong, however balanced. A stable cup throughout the cupping.
Espresso Machine:
Putting the winning S2 Lid Ajar & S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) of the aged candidates through the espresso machine.
The winning coffee S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) took the gold in the espresso by far. Most notably the results of the cupping shone here, where we needed them to as the espresso machine is where truth is revealed for the majority of our coffee drinkers. The aromatics and crema of S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) in comparison to S2 Lid Ajar were astonishingly representative of a healthy espresso bean behaviour alongside a stale bean. The salty, sweet, viscous espresso of the winning S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) and its nutty, full, balanced body with milk. Wonderful surprise. S2 Lid Ajar however finished short, sharp and terrible. Deceiving in that this coffee did cup relatively well and performed competitively alongside its rival winner on the Cupping table. The intensity of the extraction of espresso puts the beans through a very scrutinizing procession, clarifying further what was revealed on the table initially.  
S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) & S2 Lid Ajar subjects demonstrated that the breathing element to coffee is imperative.  BEST & SECOND BEST coffees respectively.
S1 Airtight completely defied my prediction of being quite palatable. Completely overly exposed to the exhaling CO2 of the bean. O2 attack not even playing a role in the staling process as to its inability to penetrate the bean. SECOND WORST CUP
S3 Open opposing representation of excessive CO2 exposure, also demonstrating that the abundant room for CO2 exhalation proved useless; increasing the O2 exposure, causing the rapid staling. WORST CUP
S5 Valved as the S3 Open cup, with a hint of vibrancy in acidity (nothing to get excited about) ran equally WORST CUP
S4 Control (Roast age 5 days) of course WON and blew our minds. However the control is shunned for the results section as she is a show off, not meeting the requirements of the Experiment!
CO2 is the worst enemy for coffee stored for a 23 day period. Stability in the cup is achieved for this aged bean when the environment allows for EXHALATION of the Co2 and limited supply of O2. The winning result of the experiment S6 Airtight (5 days breathing before sealing) demonstrates that the DEGASSING period for coffee before an AIRTIGHT seal for the remainder of the stored life, will produce better cup quality over all.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Part of the Pools
June 2014

Reluctancy stuck to the soles of Hornwomans shoes and staff as she, Goatman and Edie the Kid commenced their unmarked trail to the Blinman Pools.
The trail had never been trod by human weight in their opinion. The goat tracks and a compass pointing south spoke of the Pools and that that is the path they should take.

The steep, shaled terrain kept her reluctancy acute for several hundred meters of traversing - concocting images of ankles at wrong angles, car keys lost in the vast surrounds and a big, blank read of No Service for phone reception to match.
Goatman found his staff first with thanks to Hornwoman's keener eye. With the presence of our first mascot by our ambling footed sides, the reluctancy and reliance on the compass began to slip.
Goatwoman relaxed into the path ahead. The vehicle road gone. A goat track curving west around the chest of the first of many creases.
A weightless silence filled the space between the three and the chitter of tumbling rock beneath the feet of ground dwelling wildlife. The silence but for their sound and the circulating winged sky life was delicate. Two human figures and a canine had joined the threadwork of the mysteriouus surrounds for an afternoon.
Pausing to gasp in admiration on countless occasion, at seemingly simple, intricate detail of a beautiful uninterrupted space.

Goatman, in an exhalation of epistomological thought: "Would you think that the animals marvel of the beauty of such a place as we do??"
Clothes fell to the dirt and sun danced into their eyes as the man and women were intoxicated by the discovery of the spectacular oasis and the feeling it aroused. The air pressed cool, ricocheting off the stone and prickles bit bald feet.
The clothes came off. The water pierced, fierce. Lungs retrieting as other body parts that came in two's did too. The clothes stayed off.
They jumped into the sky. Their decorum a reflection of the primitive landscape. Riddled with the desire to let go of what would be perhaps 'moonstruck' behaviour. That term representing quite what it is for the moment. The moon that week was as complete as the Goatman and Hornwoman behaviour.

Nothing to divide near and far, big and small, but the conditioned manner of human interpretation.

Friday, 4 July 2014

I walked through the city
8.30 pm 3rd July
The human anatomy of the neck and shoulders will
evolve to resemble the Homo Sapiens preceding us once more. We used to hunch to the ground to fossick for food & material. Reasons for the
future diminished pool of 'straight backed and erect' are for far more practical
consideration of course. Must be checking constantly that the phone, laptop, ipad, tablet, ipod isn't turning to food before our very goggly

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

De Groot Move
(Beginning in the Summer of 2014)
July 2014
The commencing week of the De Groot Coffee Roastery at Rocky and Mick's 'Factory 9', Port Elliot was the beginning of new beginnings. The weather committed to the 30's c. Trev committed to the Middleton surf report. Lunch breaks to the Port Elliot Bakery meant a drive by Knights Beach. Little room was left for coffee chatter as we played beans in the generous space the Roastery had found.
Let me not deny the truth of Trevor and my interest for all things of coffee descent. Instead of drawing breath between surf updates and the hypnosis of the wave, we accomodated what would have been mainstream dialogue at Espresso Royale with the addition of new enthusiasm.

Routine altered slightly from our one of Magill Rd life.
Trev hits the bitumen Tuesdays and Thursdays to deliver the coffee to customers, bringing back tales of the city for Wednesdays and Fridays in the factory. Roasting prevails Monday, Wednesday and Friday - the preliminary months on the little red roaster until the big, black, PROBAT spaceship could be launched. The machine is now a living dream, almost completing the scene of the factory space. Trev and Bernadette prepare the interior for its public view days ahead when the Roastery Cafe will find its feet for summer 2014.
I will now articulate some subtleties around my working day at Factory 9. The thirty minute morning drive where the sun begins to greet the rolling green of the Fleurieu, as my blinking eyes adjust, is a remedy for morning weariness. My stop at Peter and Steven's 'Six acre Grocer', Port Elliot fills our fridge with produce gathered by local gardeners. People willing to share their home grown fruit and vegetables.
The community sense felt around the Peninsula convinces me that I have many, many friends in the region!! Perhaps they don't know be by name, but it feels as they do, without saying so. Personable folk enjoying the lifestyle of the plentiful and spacious, below the city.
The De Groot Coffee Co new headquarters couldn't be in a finer niche. My niche out here feels about right too.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Prairie - Meat muscling additions
May 2014
Third Prairie working adventure has passed. The transition of the hot days and mild evenings have dispersed for the Winter cool of the Flinders Ranges. The days are now temperate and the nights chilly and clear.
Simon muscled the Prairie's menu meat appeal somewhat further. Bringing back an old tradition of Kangaroo Tail Soup with vengeful vertebra of braised tail and Parmesan crouton. The Nomads are giggling with their thriftful paws around Kangaroo Tail shaped Pies. Men can't pass the 10 inch challenge of a Camel Sausage Roll with their pint of xxxx. The measure of 'how many inches he can do' won't die young.
Some delicate, pretty plates perfected for the after dark diners. Breaded two tooth hogget, goat cheese and saltbush smoked tomato tart is a tender, aged turn of the lamb cutlet, presenting with height, colour and a memorable smokiness.
Kangaroo, beetroot, pearl barley and chilli Pie with buttered peas and rivermint tatziki.
In the diffusing stream of North or South tyre hoofing adventurers, some blade driven, boot treading, camel guided visitors find the Prairie Hotel too. As did a parade of the new model Jeep Cherokees for three days for a 'drive in and drive out' five course luncheon to launch and test drive the youngest Jeep member. Where better to explore for 4wd and Australian culinary enlightenment.

Prairie Hotel Condiments put in the Jar
25th April
Prairie Hotel production of native plant and fruit based chutneys, sauces and cheese platter compliments have churned into another gear as the season of haste approaches rapidly.
Several of these jarred preserves have been a work in making for many years. The Quandong Jam and Bush Tomato Relish taking the reins in popularity.
The Quandong is a native peach of the ‘Sandalwood’ family, growing in the central and southern deserts of Australia. Its ability to tolerate drought, salt and harsh conditions of sand dunes and granite make the fruit a very impressive 'parasitic' candidate for Jam at the Prairie Hotel! The above environment is quite the reality of the Prairie and the surrounds.
   Fresh scones daily with whipped cream and Quandong Jam finds the Nomads nostrils mid morning and afternoon.
Sweet Lemon myrtle chilli Sauce is beautifully flavoursome and lifts the character of simple food combinations. The Lemon myrtle boasts the highest level of citral purity; higher than that of lemongrass. The leaves and flower are used in the culinary and healing worlds. A diverse, determined little plant!

At the Prairie, a salad dressed with this sauce of zing or a pyramid of wedges as vehicle, are ways you can sample the Sweet Lemon Myrtle Sauce with perhaps a glass of Bundaleer Rose.
 The Bush Tomato Chilli Jam gets all the Relish Lovers going. Its wild tomato character, born from a very ‘un-tomato’, eggplant related bush combined with a long simmer with onion, ginger and chilli accompanies the Prairie ‘Feral Antipasto Plate’. Cured kangaroo and pastrami, lemon aspin goat cheese, house made emu pate, Flinders Ranges olives and ciabatta. If you sample the chutney alongside these Outback delicacies at the Prairie, you are bound to find a jar with your name on it to take home.
Prairie Hotel preserve Range that provides one with a taste of native bush food with a stroke of gastronomy that you may take home.