Category Archives: Food and Wine, articles on pairing wine with food. A good match means that (1+1)>2

No sweet wine

Late September, I was feeling poorly and went to see the Doc. After endless tests he said, “We don’t know what you’ve got. It’s probably viral. Maybe it’ll go away.” (It did.)

He added scientific words to the effect of, “You’re no spring chicken though, and you do have slightly elevated blood sugar levels. If you don’t lift your game, in a few years you could become part of Australia’s Type 2 Diabetes epidemic.”

He didn’t recommend a specific diet, merely suggested that I check out Diabetes Australia, lose weight, and avoid sugary stuff and carbohydrate-rich food. “Oh,” he went on, “You should also cut down on the booze intake and exercise regularly.” A sobering thought. Continue reading


Chips Rafferty meets Laurence Olivier

From a column I wrote for The Melbourne Times, 12 July 1989:

I’ve just read a description of a dinner held at Emu Plains, New South Wales in 1948. (The Gourmet’s Week-End Book, edited by André Simon, Seeley Service, London 1952).

The setting was “Leonay“, the home of hosts Mr. and Mrs. Leo Buring. Their guests included Sir Laurence Olivier and Lady (Vivien Leigh) Olivier, and Chips and Mrs. Rafferty.

Among the wines served were an 1893 Great Western Hermitage, a 1920 White Hermitage from Dame Nellie Melba’s Coldstream vineyard, a 1932 Coonawarra Hermitage, a 1934 Hunter River Hermitage, a 1944 Drayton’s Hunter River Semillon and a 1940 Leonay Liqueur Brandy. Continue reading

Watching Keith Floyd

Over the last few weeks 7two has been running – at 6 p.m. weekdays –  a series of food shows by the late Keith Floyd – Floyd on France, Floyd’s American Pie and Floyd’s India.

The earlier shows are gems of pure entertainment: vigorous, sometimes slapdash, unpretentious, often spontaneous, witty, and informative. All episodes are well lubricated, both in recipes or in Floyd’s gullet, with lashings of good wine.

Though some episodes were made over 20 years ago, they make many of the current crop of TV celebrity “chefs” look like contrived, over-produced, self-indulgent amateurs.


Goulash, Transylvania, Barry Humphries

As I read the final pages of Barry Humphries’ Handling Edna, I recalled a brief meeting with him in, I think, 1971.

Back then, pub rock in Melbourne centred on Saturday afternoon live sessions at the Station Hotel* in Greville Street, Prahran. All the young dudes and dudettes dressed in a variety of op-shop rock-chic, Miller western shirts (lurex thread, pearl topped press studs), Lee jeans (brass button flies thank you) and tan, Cuban-heeled RM Williams boots, as they thronged to hear the bands and to see and be seen.

The person to see one afternoon was an older, solitary figure observing the goings on. It was Barry Humphries, already a legend in his home town of Melbourne. If my memory serves me correctly he was wearing a fetching blue yachting cap. Continue reading

A wine dinner in Alice Springs – 1981

Alice Springs is situated right in the heart of Australia but when I lived in the Alice thirty years ago it was hardly the centre of Australian haute cuisine. Gerry White, head of hospitality at the local college, was determined to change that. He asked me to run wine courses for the students and at the same time he created a ‘Wine and Dine Group’ for local residents.

An inaugural dinner (modestly priced) took place in the college restaurant on 11 November 1981. Gerry and I concocted the tightly budgeted menu and wine list below. Student chefs and waiters were in charge of the kitchen and service. Note the French influence in the menu items. Note also that the terms “sherry, white burgundy, claret, port” are now no longer legal on Australian wine labels. Continue reading

Urbane Toolangi 10th Anniversary


two kinds tofu

Two kinds of Tofu

Gary Hounsell, owner of Toolangi Vineyards in the Yarra Valley recently hosted a lunch at Urbane in Brisbane to celebrate Toolangi’s 10th anniversary; your itinerant reporter was there.

Gary showed guests a selection of his estate and reserve chardonnays and pinots dating back to the 2001 vintage. In an unusual approach to winemaking he explained that in its short existence, Toolangi wines were made by different winemakers at a number of wineries, among them Giaconda, Shadowfax and Yering Station.

Continue reading

Spain Gourmetour

The latest edition of glossy mag Spain Gourmetour arrived recently and I tucked in a napkin to catch the saliva as I read it through.

If ever there was a food and wine magazine with high production values this is it. Even the ad photos look good enough to eat.

Among the classy articles about Spanish food, wine and travel, you will find recipes reflecting Spain as a world leader in avant garde cuisine. I’ve fiddled successfully with recipes in the latest issue: the dessert, ‘Mango, papaya, citrus fruits and orange blossom honey jelly’ was stunning.

Spain Gourmetour is published three times a year. Best of all, it’s free to professionals in the wine and food industry.

To request a subscription, simply email your details and postal address with the subject line ‘Spain Gourmetour’ to the Economic and Commercial Offices of the Spanish Embassy in your country. For email addresses see Spain Gourmetour site.

Pimientos de Padron

I tried some Pimientos de Padron – little green Spanish peppers – at the Noosa Farmers’ Market last week – sensational!

You fry them for a few minutes in hot olive oil – until the skin blisters and shows just a few speckles of brown – then serve hot with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes.

They are not at all chili hot but rather, succulent and sweet. I lied. About one in 15 is hot – adds a little spice to a plateful and the palate.

A brilliant starter dish on any table – you won’t be able to stop eating them.

Serve with cold beer or a chilled Fino sherry.

A jug of wine, no loaf of bread

Bread has all but disappeared from restaurant tables and we should all lament its absence.

In mediaeval days, they served meals on trenchers instead of plates. The trencher was a thick slice of stale bread and the meat and gravy were ladled on to it. When the meat was finished, nobles and peasants alike gobbled up the gravy-enriched trencher as a second course. Continue reading


Macrobiotic hippies London, 1971

I shared a flat with a couple of low pH* hippies in London in 1971. Their diet, which was therefore my diet, was allegedly macrobiotic. No meat, no tomatoes, a bit of yin, brown rice, a pinch of hing, an occasional dollop of yang, (see yin) carrots, green tea, no onion or garlic. That was it.

 It was inexpensive, but not too appetizing. I didn’t dare ask about alcohol so I’d sneak off to meditate, adopt the full lotus position and slurp a glass or two of cheap claret (chateau-bottled, in Bulgaria) for a vitamin boost. Continue reading