Cause

Hangovers aren’t just caused by beer, they are caused by everything that surrounds drinking. Food, wine, partying and having a good time are all causes and here at My Aching Head we are slowly documenting having a good time.


My Picks of Pinot Palooza

The weekend before last marked the first Pinot Palooza. One of the best ways to spend an afternoon that I could think of: tasting a great cross section of Pinot from across Australia and New Zealand. The guys at The Wine Guide did a brilliant job of bringing it all together, complete with ridiculously loud playing of Gangnam Style and #realperoni in the hands of all of the producers.

We took a bit of a scatter gun approach to the tasting, tasting a few producers whom I’ve not previously tasted (had been looking forward to tasting Bannockburn’s wine for a while), a few randoms and a few old favourites.

Overall I would say that the standing of Australasian Pinot is top notch. Young Pinot vines can sometimes produce a thin, slightly insipid wine which struggles for depth and balance. This is often the kind of Pinot that’s cheaper, but not worth the price of the glass.  I can safely say, I didn’t taste a single wine like this. In fact, some of the cheaper wines really held their own.

The following are the photos I snapped of my standout wines. I seemed to have missed taking a photo of what was my favourite wine of the day, the Valli Gibbston Valley 2010.

ProvenanceOakdene 20102012-10-21 17.34.17Martinborough Vineyard 2010Devil's Corner 2011DalrympleJosef Chromy 2010Maude 2010GaragistePort Phillip Estate

 

#mEatDrinkBlog – Valentines Day Edition

It’s been a long time between drinks, but we are finally there. The next #mEatDrinkBlog will be a PotLuck dinner held at the lovely co-working space of Inspire 9 on, the 14th February.

What to bring?

It’s a potluck, so bring your favourite potluck dish, whether that’s a curry, a salad or a heart-shaped pavlova and we’ll all feast on a bit of this and a bit of that. Also, feel free to bring a bottle of wine, a six pack of beer or a Big Lebowski style White Russian kit.

As far as cooking implements go, there are a couple of gas cookers and a microwave but no oven and not too many pots and pans. Best bet is to bring your food in a stove-top casserole dish or something of the sort. If you are unsure, just drop me a line and I’ll be able to give some guidance.

Who’s invited?

Anyone and everyone who’s interested in food and food blogging/writing. We are a friendly bunch so feel free to bring a friend.

When?

7:00pm, 14th February.

Where?

Inspire 9. Level 1, 43 Stewart St. Richmond. It’s right next to the Richmond Train station. So take a tram down Swan St, or a train to Richmond station.

Talks.

We haven’t really had a definite yay, or nay about having talks. i9 is a great spot for something or other, so if you are interested in giving us a talk about something, please let me know.

RSVP.

RSVP in the comments here or email me at michael+meatdrinkblog@wakeless.net just so we have some idea of numbers.

Amazing Slow Roasted Lamb

When asked recently what my favourite meal is I didn’t immediately have the answer. After putting some serious consideration into it, I didn’t come up with a definitive answer, but an awesome roast lamb is certainly in my top 3. A perfectly roasted lamb shoulder, with roast potatoes and a red wine gravy, hell yeah.

There’s a couple of tricks to getting the most out of a lamb roast. Firstly, get a cut with the bone in, a shoulder or leg is perfect. The bone carries a lot of flavour and the meat around the bones is generally more interesting. Secondly, be sure to err on the side of less time than more, dry lamb is terrible. Finally, don’t skimp on the meat. Getting aged lamb isn’t particularly easy, but generally the better the butcher, the better the meat. Look for a good covering of a nice clean, white fat on the meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 x good size lamb leg or shoulder on the bone.
  • 4 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

Leave the lamb on the bench for a few hours prior to cooking to let it come up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 220.  Mix the spices and oil together in a bowl to form a paste. Rub the paste on the outside of the lamb especially on the top, fatty side. Place the lamb in a roasting dish and cook for 25 minutes. Cover the lamb with a tinfoil, lower the temperature of the oven to 120 and cook for 4 hours. An hour before serving, use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of the lamb. The temperature should be close to 77. If it’s below 73, increase the temperature of the oven to 180 and uncover to finish it off.

Half an hour before serving, take the meat out of the oven, wrap it in tinfoil and cover with a folded tea-towel and leave to rest. Retain the juice in the roasting dish for gravy.

Finally, when carving, retain the juices and and them to the roasting dish juices.

Gravy or Sauce

This recipe is not exactly a gravy, more of a jus or sauce. Take all of the retained juices from the pan and carving and either use the roasting pan or a big frying pan. Heat it up to a hard boil. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Lower the heat to a simmer and add plenty of salt, pepper and the butter. Let the sauce cook down to a slightly thick sauce and serve.

Thanks to Meat and Livestock Australia for a recent masterclass on cooking lamb. It helped quantify some of the method I’ve been using for a long time.

 

How to Better Engage the New (and old) Media

I drank French and Australian champagne at a launch party on Tuesday night, I ate some of the food as well. It was nice, apparently of Creole influence and put together by a chef that’s worked at some other places as well. I’ve got to thank the guys at My Mexican Cousin for their hospitality and at the risk of sounding like a right wanker, make some suggestions.

Sure, I enjoyed it. It’s nice to be made to feel important. It’s nice to mingle with interesting people. Ultimately though, I’m not that engaged, my readers won’t be engaged if I write a post about it so I won’t.

Here’s some ideas I’ve got to better engage people like me.

You’ve got to bear in mind that food bloggers are people that love food or whatever it is they write about. They probably already love what you are doing and they probably don’t need to be bribed into writing. Show them how to cook your signature dish. They want to write – that’s why they are bloggers. You must also realise that bloggers can write any kind of post. It doesn’t have to be a restaurant review. It could be a recipe, or an interview, or anything else you’ve not thought of. Empower them to do cool stuff about you and the will.

  • Talk. The owner, the chef, the sommelier or the head barista needs to introduce themselves and make themselves available to answer any questions.
  • Taste. Invite the people you are trying to engage for a tasting. I’m not talking a free lunch here, more like 1 of every dish on a table for them to sample. Give them time. Let them take photos. Let them talk to each other.
  • Access. Show them the kitchen, show them the produce in uncooked form. Show them what’s so great about the coffee machine, show them the wine cellar. Show them everything and anything. Let them take photos. Answer questions.
  • Timing. Bloggers have other jobs. Make it easy for them to get to it. After work is great, a weekend would be nice.
  • Teach. Show them how to cook your signature dish. Show them how to pull an awesome shot. Tell them why the wine list is as it is.
  • Relationships. Build an ongoing relationship with bloggers that are active in your area, suburb or space. They’ll be more willing to contact you if they want to write a story or have a problem.

You’ll note that nothing here is outrageous, in fact is far less outrageous than pouring a shitload of good wine down my neck and I’ll appreciate it more.

It’s worth reading the series of posts that Thanh wrote about his experience at Steer Bar and Grill. For some more interesting reading, check out Stickifingers take on the PR industries view of food bloggers. Here and here.

SEO Presentation Slides

I was honoured to have half an hour of everyone’s time at Australian Food Blogger’s conference on Saturday. My talk was about search engine optimisation and due to a technical glitch the slides weren’t able to be shown at the time. I’m attaching them below. I’ve actually added a slide that I wasn’t going to show on the weekend that I think helps to clarify the discussion of link networks. Bonus!

As I mentioned SEO is one of those things that is easy and hard at the same time. My advice is to focus on the basics that you can control and not worry too much about stuff you can’t control.

I didn’t mention on the day, but it was in the final slide. I’d love it if you are linking to this presentation if you could link to my other website (my winery directory) Terroir.me.

Paul Jewson’s Fitzrovia opens in St Kilda

Sticky Lamb Ribs

Since moving on from Outpost, Paul Jewson has been a busy man. I’ve seen him in the kitchen at St Ali, he’s been working at St Ali in London and turns out he’s and partner Marco Pulagni have been turning the Waldorf in St Kilda into the beautifully rendered Fitzrovia. At 155 Fitzroy St, it’s just near the newly opened Golden Fields, Baker d Chirico and Miss Jackson in what’s becoming a fine-food hotspot.

I’ve long been a fan of Paul Jewson’s food. It ticks all my boxes (I don’t really have boxes to tick), it’s generous, has big flavours and is always seasonal. It’s hard to say what the plan is, but when we dropped in on Sunday the daytime menu was poorly printed on the dodgy computer printer. We were told it was “temporary”, but I’m not so sure it was, not in the sense that it will ever be “fixed” anyway. It was the same at Outpost and the ever-changing menu works perfectly, especially when the food has this sense of style. I just wish they’d get a good printer.

The dinner menu, though, is a far more refined affair in presentation and substance.

The restaurant comprises 2 separate areas. At the front, a 2 level, minimally lit, glass atrium, perfect for breakfast or brunch and come evening a perfect place for a pre-dinner aperitif or glass of wine. The dining room is a more traditional dining area with a huge open doorway into the kitchen. Currently the walls are sparse, but trimmings are coming and it won’t take much to turn it to a understated, classic dining room.

The kitchen itself is somewhat of a feature, it has a huge marble-topped island table crowned by a rustic, hanging pot rack. It doesn’t have the carefully manicured design of Outpost, but it is far more functional and will provide a great vibe on a busy night.

The 2 brunch dishes we had were sticky lamb ribs on a smoked corn salad and scrambled eggs with bacon and tomatoes. The ribs were in the no-fork-required territory with the sauce overpowering the flavour of the meat. The scrambled eggs were as good as they get, endless folds of soft, rich egg with a tomato chutney with a nicely balanced tang. The chutney was so good that I ended up eating the last of it on toast.

mEatDrinkBlog – 22nd September

It’s that time again, mEatDrinkBlog has been locked in for the 22nd September at the Vine Hotel, 59 Wellington Street, Collingwood. It isn’t Bastille day, and no-one is organising a truffle dinner so I’m expecting a good turnout. It will get started at 7pm.

As far as food goes, I’ve asked Mr Ron O’Bryan to ensure that the vegetarian’s amongst us are catered for. I know it was a little bit shit at the last one.

As always, everyone who is interested in eating, writing about food, tweeting about food or talking to a swathe of random bloggery types is welcome.

For the talk/entertainment, we discussed at the last meetup of having a few different people (bloggers old and new) talking for 3-5 minutes about how and we they blog and a little bit of Q&A. So if I could have a few people volunteer for that, that’d be great or perhaps we should pick names out of a hat on the night.

As always, please RSVP here in the comments so we can ensure the venue is ready for the onslaught.

It’s also worth noting that mEatDrinkBlog is coming under the heading of the Fringe Food Festival and in the future the announcements will come on that site.