Monday, October 28, 2013

Johnnie Walker Vs J&B - Cheap Whisky shout-out

I like my whisky. If you are a regular connoisseur of the fine drop you may need to mortgage the house to enjoy the better ones. It is not hard to pay $90 to $300 a bottle for some of the best though I have found incredibly good whiskies for $60 to $90 a bottle. Why should life be so hard? Surely there is a cheap drop of the golden nectar which will satisfy and not break the band.

And so the quest. I bashed the local liquor stores and the Dan Murphies nearby purchasing and sampling the better offerings of blended Scotch and even single malt Whiskies in the $30 to $40 range. Not that I will review it here but Glen Moray single malt Irish, 5 year old, is a fine example of an inexpensive single malt Whiskey. Lookout for the review now back to the blended. Heather Mist is an example of a darn horrible whisky. If you mix coke with your whisky (which I never do) you will be wasting good coke on this one. This stuff is almost undrinkable, no wonder it can be purchased for under $29.

Grants is a reasonable sipping whisky but has a heavy Islay malt flavour. After a few Grants I found the heaviness just too much. I did find Johnnie Walker Red Label (JW) a base, drinkable whisky at the mid thirties price. I drink my whiskies straight in a chilled glass, no ice. JW though just didn’t excite and its crude attempt at a peat bouquet leaves me feeling I have been breathing smoke from burning timbers. It also has a sow mash finish. Again, compared to more expensive whiskies, which do sponsor a sow mash finish, I found this a little over bearing.

On the recommendation of Dan Murphy staff I tried J&BScotch Whisky (JB). This is quite similar to JW but has an oily, smoother finish with none of the peat bouquet or sow mash finish. At least these two characters are not overly evident. JB has more of the “cream” finish than JW and is fine as a sipping whisky where you want to have a few and not feel bogged down. See some tasting notes below.

For me and my wallet JB is the drink. I can sip away for hours and not feel weighted down by too much sour mash, or over malty flavour. My head is full of aromatics at every sip and I get to keep the house. You should be able to buy JB at the low thirty dollar mark. I have seen it as high as $39.95. Don’t pay this and shop around. Drink it straight and leave the coke for children.

Lighter in colour
Very light bouquet slight citrus
Slightly oily, hits with that whisky taste at the back of tongue
Smooth off the tongue and across the palette
Light aromatic. Fills the head with light spice

More yellow, looks righter
slightly heavier bouquet. A slight meaty odour but both whisky are very light
A little cruder, far more sour than JB not as refined in flavour
Hits you at the back of the mouth.
Richer and harder aromatics into the back of the nose.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chef Clinton McIver - Championa Bistro, Clayton South, Victoria

Do any of these foods excite you: yellow fin tuna, pickled daikon, slow cooked eggs, roasted garlic, slow roasted pork, spiced pork mayonnaise, dry age beef, onion puree, roasted macadamia, red gum honey and scorched lemon curd? Image in one sitting sampling all of the above and a lot more in a degustation of five courses. Chef Clinton McIver formerly from Vue de Monde will excite all your culinary sense for a token $50 at the Clayton Bowling Club’s Championa Bistro South Clayton.

Depending on your choice of drinks for the night this could be the best value and one of the greatest dinning experiences of your life. Set in the simple (even plain) bistro room of the bowling club but with an open view of the bowling green, you will be on the receiving end of some truly divine dining. The menu is a set five courses and set to have you commenting after each mouthful. You can’t help not express how good each mouthful is and how well (read perfectly) prepared and presented the entire meal is. In any other environment you would be paying double and you would still see it as good value.

Good luck trying to book in they are completely booked out until Chef leaves about mid-year 2014. But try. The food is ridiculously good, staff are passionate about their job and extremely friendly. Parking is dead easy and a relaxing view of the green is just icing on a delicious cake. Flavours abound, the wine is good and the total experience – priceless.

Monday, October 21, 2013

InterContinental Melbourne Rialto - Melbourne City

The InterContinental Melbourne Rialto is a grand old building and is located toward the Spencer Street end of Collins Street. I was attending and Audio Visual show for 2013, in this fine establishment and how better to kick-off the day but with lunch. To make it easy I decided to dine at the InterContinental  (Alluvial Restaurant) with another Melbourne Audio Club member. Lunch was ordered and so was the red.

When the Feathertop wine came to the table I noted it labelled 2010. The wine list had it down as a 2009. On questioning wait staff I was told there was no 2009 remaining (maybe the wine list should be updated). Much later that evening I ordered a different red and noted it listed as a 2010. When the bottle arrived it was labelled 2012. Again I was informed there was no 2010 remaining. Not what I would expect from a hotel complex carrying the Rialto name.

Now to the food. I ordered a meat dish of two different meats.  I knew there would be little else on the plate other than small portions of meat so a side of “hand cut” potato wedges was ordered and some English mustard (a combo I have grown to love and even better Wasabi and chips). One portion of meat is what would be described as a “medallion”. If the meat medallion was placed on a 50 cent piece you would still be able to see the perimeter of the 50 cent piece. Fortunately the second meat was larger. Both meats were gorgeous and perfectly prepared. By the lime I finished the wedges (I felt over-cooked) I was satisfied. Off the show we go.

The (old Menzies) InterContinental is a beautiful old hotel and to be able to sit in the atrium area looking up at the towering rooms above you and to the sky is a lovely experience. Staff is first class and friendly whether you are at a table for a meal or the bar for drinks.  Wine is very, very pricey and there is only Crown larger on tap. I’m sure there many different beers in the fridge but hard to beat an array of local and international beers on tap. My experience at the table and bar will not stop me going back but I think management staff needs a shake-up. At least update the wine list!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Celsius Cafe, Restaurant and Bar - Frankston, Gateway to the Peninsula

If you work in the heart of Frankston there a plethora cafes, restaurants, hotels  etc. to choose where to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t work in the heart of Frankston though I do only live 15mins from its centre.  A few good spots where we once had breakfast, on occasions, have ether changed hands and are not what they use to be or have vanished completely. Celsius Cafe Restaurant and Bar has been in the same spot for many years. It has changed hands and name and had a number of makeovers. Regardless of these changes, personally, I have always enjoyed breakfast there.

I love my Eggs Benedict and at every sitting I always have the same meal.  My wife does not order off the menu for a mix of mushrooms  and other treats on toast. This has never been a problem for the wait staff or chef. My Eggs Benedict have always been prepared to perfection with the eggs buttery and a gooey yoke, just right. The sauce, though I feel store bought, is still very enjoyable. Coffee also is very good here just don’t order it strong, it will be far too strong.

With lots of parking at hand, delightful and modern decor, friendly staff and the ability to eat outside, inside or in the court yard, you have no excuse not to imbibe. The price of your meal whether breakfast or lunch will not be of concern. Food quality is high and portions reasonable. Pick a spot near the big window at the front and watch others hurry by as you sip on coffee number two. No hurry at Celsius, relax, enjoy the food, recharge the batteries and plan when to come back to do it again.