Posts Categorized: Drinks

Croce via di Stasio – the beautiful bar next door


It’s 4.38am. My mouth is dry. My head is sore and I have hangover insomnia (as I call it). Last night I dropped in for a quick bowl of pasta at the new Bar di Stasio. And that’s where I went wrong. There has never been any such thing as a quick bowl of pasta at Cafe di Stasio nor will there ever be such as thing at Bar di Stasio, which last week celebrated its 25th year. I know that about half of you out there are gong to disagree with me here as di Stasio is the kind of place that polarizes people. Even before I’d met (and I should declare been watered) by Ronnie di Stasio or Mallory Wall (pictured at the bar above) I was a big fan of the restaurant. And for me it just gets better by the visit. It’s starts off with the set lunch which I remember as far back as $15 for two courses and a glass of wine. It’s now $35 but you will never get out of there without a mugging by the charm of restaurant’s old school Italian waiters complete in their white jackets, black bowties and, sometimes, dyed black hair. It’s insidious. Perhaps it starts with a glass on impeccably presented Campari ($13). An Aperol Spritz ($15). Or maybe a prosecco ($11). Kerching! Watch out for the bottled water. And that second glass of wine. The caffè corretto (espresso with a shot of grappa) is mandatory. $35 is now $75. And I’ve started drinking so I have to finish off as much as I can from the bar. In possible the most aesthetically designed bar I’ve ever been too – a collaboration between Ronnie, architects and artists – and it happened again. And since I started writing this post it has happened again and again. And again. I sat at the monolithic marble bar imported in two slabs (from Sicily as is the original bar next door) and sealed together in a near invisible paper thin seam. Behind me over the entrance is a fire engine red Callum Mortan sculpture appearing to give structural integrity to the single fronted space. The pale rendered walls are finished to a polish with no addition of paint. It’s just expensive detail in a solid brick and plaster wall. It makes for quality and solidity. It gives you the feeling that… Read more »

An amphora dinner that will show why wines made with ancient techniques are so exciting

What: Amphora Wine Dinner at Virginia Plain When: Tuesday 13 November 2012 7pm Where: Virginia Plain, 31 Flinders Lane (next to Cumulus Inc) How much: $110.00 (plus 30c booking fee) How to book: Booking only through Trybooking here. The other day I received two bottles of some of the most exciting wines I’ve bought. They were made by former Fosters head winemaker Glenn James not in bulk in stainless steel (like most Aussie wine) but in an amphora – that’s a large pot which he’d crawled inside and lined with beeswax. It’s part of a movement where winemakers are turning their backs on the last half century’s tradition of using stainless steel for everything and the previous 500 hundred years of French and other European techniques usually involving oak barrels. Instead James used the amphora pictured above by simply dumping in a blend of grapes. Typically, there is no intervention in terms of adding yeast, sugar, acid or oak to the wine. Although a little sulphur is sometimes used to aid preservation. The grapes are left in the amphora for up to a month or two and nature is left to do its job. We’ve pulled together a dinner with Ducks in a Row and Virginia Plain and Fringe Food to showcase and compared some locally made amphora wines with some internationally recognised cult wines including Gravner and Pheasant Tears. For me Amphora (and natural) wines are textural and packed with umami – a bit like sherry – making them perfect match for food. I find that they stop me in my tracks and make me want to savour rather than sink several bottles. Glenn James, former head winemaker at Fosters, from Ducks in a Row and other winemakers will be there on the night to talk about his story and amphora wines. This is what wine writer Huon Hooksaid in the Sydney Morning Herald about James’ amphora wine: “Now, readers of this column know I am a little sceptical about ‘natural’ wines, but here is one made by a seriously competent and experienced winemaker, and it is a quality wine – but also one made with the least manipulation imaginable. And it tastes terrific. The colour is lightly cloudy mid-yellow, without any brown tints. Its bouquet is delightfully floral and spicy, with the muscaty fragrance of the moscato giallo dominant, although it is a small percentage of the blend…. Read more »