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Drinks, Wine

Wine? It’s natural even for you

Voice of the People at The Melbourne Wine Room. Try it. Wine, most of us drink it. Some of us love it. But many of us are intimidated by it, or the wankery that comes with labels, hundreds of grape varieties and the language of the wine critic. All we know is that we like that particular red or white while slumped on the sofa watching TV and we wouldn’t mind drinking something similar down the pub. Or wine bar. […]

coffee, Video

Breaking the coffee (and road) rules

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVfvo16hXvQ] So there we are, driving along minding our own business in Sal’s Fiat 500. Well, we’d reversed out of Flinders Lane illegally right next to the Police Station and then driven through the bollards into Little Collins Street. A traffic warden has the gall to bollock us. Yes, I’m afraid my sound still isn’t up to scratch but here is my second stab of talking coffee with St Ali’s Salavatore Malatesta(who funds these videos) and we have a bit […]

coffee, Melbourne, Video

A laneway coffee festival is born

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfsq56HVVs0] In addition to my journalism, now I am blogging for a living over at Ad News and for St Ali where I’m producing a series of video blogs looking at various aspects of coffee culture and some of the geekery behind it. Cafe and coffee culture in Melbourne is going crazy right now and the new generation of roasters started with St Ali. Perhaps I have sold out, but it’s a great opportunity to experiment with video content and […]

Management, The Australian, Wine, Writing portfolio

Relative merits of family businesses

THERE are many big issues facing family businesses. For a start, the family members are not only the shareholders and the board of directors, but the management of the company too. But of everything they face, the most thorny issue is how to deal with the kids when they either want to join the business or cash out. According to Terry Rowney, chairman of Family Business Australia, one of the worst things a family business can do is expect the […]

cafe, coffee, Collingwood, Melbourne, Tea

Proud Mary. Great coffee and tea

I‘m starting to judge cafes by their espresso machines. The more serious the machine, the better the coffee. So when you walk into a cafe and you see a six group Synesso longer than a coffin worth some $40,000 and you know something special is going on. It sorta trumps even St Ali’s $30,000 Slayer which is pretty awesome but only has three groups. [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8bkRs77uX4] A Synesso in action. And I can tell you it’s official: Today coffee – and […]

Restaurants, Sydney, Wine

My Sydney wine fix

Fix St James: Funnily enough very close to St James station, 111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000 +61 2 9232 2767 There must be something about Fix St James to make me return. During the last two of my trips to Sydney I have visited, three times – twice in the past week. And it is a place now popular with bloggers and twitterers @reemski, @felixexplody and @carmr. But also it is popular with the ACP crowd, including the editors […]

coffee, The Australian, Writing portfolio

Beans means big business: coffee

IT’S too busy,” complains Mark Dundon the co-owner of Seven Seeds, a Melbourne-based specialty coffee roaster and cafe, which opened earlier this year. Customers are queuing and sitting around waiting for specialty espressos, and lattes and other newfangled brews. He’s not the only specialty coffee operator facing a boom in trade and a shortage of good baristas. People are replacing eating out in restaurants with coffee, and starting to look at the origins and treatments of coffee beans. That’s what […]

Bars & pubs, Drinks, gin, Richmond, Spirits and cocktails, Vodka

Drama at Der Raum

It’s about theatre. And Der Raum does it well. Gin – there’s a selection of all the good stuff – is chilled with liquid nitrogen. It boils in a glass jug with clouds spilling down its sides and along the bar counter. When the ice clears from the surface, it is safe to sip. And it is a good martini. A very clean martini. It’s not one that will bitch slap you in the face – although I like those. […]

Drinks, Wine

Who will win the Young Guns of Wine? (And tickets for give away)

The Young Guns of Wine Awards is one of the best and least stuffy events on the Melbourne food and wine calendar. This year the event is a full blown festival weekend from Aug 22 to 23 with a People’s Choice Tasting at The Prince Wine Store in South Melbourne on Saturday August 22 between 11am and 2pm, and dinners at seven of Melbourne’s hottest restaurants in the evening (and probably a few drinks at Siglo after). The judges of […]

Cider, Drinks

Toasty Tassie cider wins my heart

It’s quite dark and yeasty, toasty even. And like many of the ciders that are emerging in Australia, Tasmanian Inn Cider is high in alcohol, 8 per cent. But still that’s a lot weaker than wine. There is a lot to like about this one, which was bought and delivered together with this month’s Bruny Island Cheese Club Box. The cider fizzes but isn’t too fizzy and with an terrific balance between the sweet and sharpness of the apple. Many […]