02.01.2009 – 04.01.2009
The next few days involved recovering from NYE and chilling in and around Melbourne. The day after NYE, Steve and I headed down to Queen Victoria Market to pick up the ingredients for an award winning ($24,000) chilli. The chilli recipe he had was taken from a chilli dish that had won a competition due to the heat the chilli produced!
Queen Victoria market itself is a typical colourful array of different market stalls selling everything from meat and veg to nik naks. After purchasing the necessaries and stopping of to grab a quick Borek (a light Greek bread stuffed with veg and meat) we headed on back to Steve could get to work in the kitchen. Three hours later, plenty of chopping & sweating (the food that is, not me) and the chilli was cooked and ready to serve. The Chilli was wolfed down and was amazing, a wonderful (but very hot) mix of three or four different types ofchilli with a delicious deep tomato and mince base we were stuffed and I was sweating like a fat kid in a cake shop. Three gallons of water and 1/2 an hour later I finally stopped sweating and to my relief I had feeling in my mouth again, my lips had returned to their normal size and I could speak instead of drool. It was only then that Steve claimed that he had only used 1/2 the recommended amount of chilli`s required, thank God!
The next day Steve, Misa and I headed about 80 kms East out of town to Melbourne towards the Yara Valley Australia’s leading cool climate wine region. The Yarra Valley is Victoria`s oldest wine region, with over 3 600 hectares under vine. It is also Victoria`s most visited wine area. with a history stretching back over 160 years. Vines were first planted in 1838, and viticulture spread rapidly through the 1860s and 1870s. However, increased demand for fortified wine saw Yarra Valley wine production cease in 1921.Replanting began in the late 1960s and by the early 1990s, the area under vine passed the high point of the 19th century. To make sure that all the wine we were about to sample didn’t go straight to our heads we hopped into a pub for lunch where I sampled my first ever Kangaroo Steak. Tasting a little like beef fillet, covered with a nice peppercorn sauce, mashed tatties and washed down with a local full bodied red, Australia’s national symbol provided a fine meal.. After lunch we than headed off for a few tastings at a couple of different vineyards. It was impossible to favour a single variety as the star performer – since the Yarra Valley offers many sparkling wines including those made in partnership with French Champagne houses, fine Chardonnays, complex Pinot Noirs and world class Cabernet Sauvignons and Shiraz’s, but we made sure we sampled as many as possible to give some kind of blurry verdict in which no one won and they were all great! We headed back to Melbourne with a few bottles to carry on some more tastings at Steve’s apartment. It was a fitting end to a fantastic week with Steve and Misa who had been lovely hosts allowing me to crash at their place for such a long time. Next on the hit list – The Great Ocean Road….