Thursday, 29 August 2013

How do you like your .....?

How do you like your .....?

I admit I've been slacking with the blog posts these past few weeks – but only because I've been busy with work and my recent completion of the WSET  (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) Level 3 course.  MTC had me in 5-6 days a week, so things are good – but busy.  Any spare time apart from work was spent studying for the exam that took place last week.

I think it went fairly well. The exam had three parts: a multiple choice section consisting of 50 questions, a short answer section, and finally the blind tasting.  I thought I had nailed the tasting part: one white and one red to evaluate, write notes and guess the varietal.  I would have bet all my pennies on a New Zealand Chardonnay for the white and Beaujolais village for the red….. One out of two ain’t bad, I guess.  The white turned out to be a flippin’ Soave! I couldn’t believe it – its flavor profile mirrored a chardonnay perfectly.  The cherry bubble gum characteristic of the red screamed Beaujolais to me – and son of gun , so it was.    The only next level to complete is the Diploma, but I am not sure if I will have the nerve, time, or money to achieve it.  I would have to really dedicate myself to make it a success.

Monday is always my day off so everyone's worst weekday has become my Friday now. That said, for the past few weeks I have been taking advantage of going to restaurants around the city that clients have been recommending.  Meatball Wine Bar was my first pit stop and I have to say I had a lovely little afternoon.

Success with restaurants or bars I believe rests, without a doubt, on hours of planning, hard work, dedication and sacrifice. However, the key ingredient in any eatery is to create something unique and different, instead of trying to master too many things at once.  For instance, MTC does only cheese. No breakfast, no lunch, no sweet desserts – just cheese.

Meatball Wine Bar in Melbourne has the same philosophy:  This funky old school looking kind of place does meatballs – nothing else.   I walked in at about 3 in the afternoon – that perfect time between lunch and after work nibbles and drinks.  I sat at the bar and was greeted by the friendly bar man Ben, who used to live in Regina of all places.  The menu was focused on … guessed it!  Meatballs. The best way to try the different types they had was to order the mini balls. I went with chicken, pork and beef.  ( For my vegetarian friends, they had a fish and vegan option.)  These little balls were served with three different sauces for condiments.  They were delicious, the pork ball was crowned king and I washed everything down nicely with a glass of pecorino wine from Italy.  I had never had this varietal before and I have to say it was lovely.  It had a light gold color, a bouquet of loads of white fruit, pear and a bit of  jasmine, with a nice weight on the palate with lively acidity. I would guess it had a bit of lees contact, but it did not take away from the freshness of the wine.   The finish was clean and long.  I was so excited to try something I had never had before and I have to say I loved it! So different. 

For my next dish, I decided I would go with the lamb balls – these were a bit bigger in size and absolutely gorgeous.  The balls rested on top of couscous, and came with a slice of fresh foccacia bread.  Perfect for rounding up the dill yogurt that laid on top.  So many different flavors were hitting my taste buds  – it was a crazy party in my mouth, but it all fit perfectly well.  The balls were moist and packed with flavor.  Ben had not steered me wrongly yet, so I asked him to recommend a wine that would pair well with the lamb balls.  He presented Scott – a wine with Italian varietals, but came from the Adelaide Hills in Australia. I have been reading about Italian varieties being planted in the King Valley area, and that they were doing pretty damn well, but how could that be?  Only Italy does the best Italian wine!! I have to admit that I was skeptical before tasting, but I gave it a shot. Again, I was really surprised and pleased with the outcome: plump, rich, and bold but it had amazing drinkability.  A cool climate wine that was loaded with round black fruit,  soft sweet spice and beautiful acidity.   The oak was well integrated and the tannins were present, but soft grained.  The bold flavors of the wine complemented the bold flavors of the lamb, and I was one happy girl. 

Barman Ben was really pleasant and we had a good ol’ chat that afternoon.  Just as important, the quality of the food was good and equally fun.  I definitely intend to go back and try other funky little wines on their list – and of course try a new meatball or two.