My steak with chimichurri

Another mid week winner.  Particularly great for mid week entertaining or to have some leftovers of in the fridge. Chimichurri seems to have many guises, but this is one of my favourites.  It is also a very economical dish and looks great served on a wooden board in the middle of the table with a few salads or char grilled veg to dress it up.  And, the best part … no washing up!

Ingredients:

Steak: I tend to use rump or rib eye on the bone or a similar cut.

Chimichurri: equal amounts of flat leaf parsley &coriander, half the amount of oregano, garlic (crushed) to taste, paprika (I use smoked) & ground cumin equal amounts (round half a teaspoon of each)  and lemon juice to taste, but don’t be shy and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).

Method:

Bring steak to room temperature, drizzle with EVOO and season well with S&P.

For chimichurri, add all ingredients to a little hand blitzer and blitz till coarse.

Cook steak on the BBQ till it’s how you like it and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Plate:

Cut steak up into strips against the grain, drizzle with chimichurri and serve the rest on the side.

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Roast chicken with all the good stuff

I love chicken!  There I’ve said it.  It’s my favourite meat, the most versatile and the best to match with Chardonnay.  I cook this at least once a week and the best part is the smell that emanates through the house.  There are many fancier versions of roast chook, but for a weekday meal, it’s set and forget, puts the kids to bed and then finish it all off in the last ten minutes.  And, no, before you ask, don’t even think the pre-flavoured & stuffed marinated birds you can get from the supermarket will do the job…. they never do!

Ingredients:

A chook, a lemon cut in half, thyme (I have an enduring love affair with lemon thyme), sage, rosemary (or a variety of fresh woody herbs that you have at your disposal), extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a head of garlic, salt and pepper (S&P), brown onion quartered or eshallots.

Sides: dutch (baby)

carrots, washed and trimmed, chat potatoes, woody herbs, butternut pumpkin, feta, sage, walnuts, EVOO, S&P and garlic.

Gravy: plain flour & chicken stock.

Method:

Put the chat potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, season generously with  salt and bring to the boil and cook until until tender (20-30 mins).

Drain any excess liquid out of the chicken carcass and pat the top of the chicken dry. Stuff it with half the lemon, a bunch of your woody herbs, half a head of garlic (cut through the middle so the inside of each clove is exposed).  Put a bit of EVOO in a roasting dish (also suitable for use on the stove when making the gravy), place the chicken breast side up in the dish, drizzle generously with EVOO and season (don’t be shy with the salt it will help the skin go crispy).  Place the quartered brown onion or eshallots (these help give the gravy a rich brown colour) and the other half a head of garlic in the pan and put in a pre-heated oven at 180-200 degrees for an hour.

While the chats are cooking, put a glug of olive oil in another small roasting dish and add carrots, thyme and S&P and put in the oven  for about 40 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Cut the pumpkin into wedges and place in another baking dish (a big one so there is room for the potatoes too) with a lug of EVOO and S&P, and cook in the oven with the carrots and chicken for about 40 minutes or till caramelised and soft.

When the potatoes are soft, drain and place in the baking dish with the pumpkin.  Smash them with a masher (I use a pestle), so they break up a bit, drizzle them generously with EVOO, season well, scatter over some of the woody herbs, a few garlic cloves and the juice from the other half of the lemon and roast them along with the pumpkin until they are golden, brown and crispy.

When you think the chicken is cooked, pierce the area between the thigh and the breast and if the juices run clear it is cooked.  Place the chicken breast side down on a plate and cover with foil to rest.

Put the kids to bed at this point and pour yourself a glass of E.M. Limited Release Chardonnay, a food and wine match made in heaven!

Put a handful of walnuts in the oven to toast (watch them carefully they turn quickly).

Skim or remove the excess fat from the roasting tin the chicken was in and add a tablespoon or two of flour and mix to form a paste.  Put the pan on the heat (stove top) and add chicken stock to make the gravy (I usually start with 500ml and add gradually as  necessary).  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the roasting tray, squish the onion up and squeeze out the garlic cloves and bring to the simmer until it is the desired thickness.  If you are having trouble getting a nice rich colour in the gravy, add Vegemite or soy sauce to help.

Boil the jug and fill a gravy boat or whatever you plan to serve the gravy in with boiling water to get it warm.

Meanwhile in a small fry pan, brown some butter and add the sage when the butter is nut brown.

Plating:

Once everything is cooked, turn off the oven and put in all your plates and serving platters to get warm.

Add any liquid from the resting chicken to the gravy and pop back in the oven to keep warm.

Plate up the pumpkin, pour over the sage and brown butter and toasted walnuts and put back in the oven to keep warm. Put the potatoes and the carrots in serving dishes and back in the oven to keep warm.

Strain the gravy through a sieve into the warmed gravy boat and put in the oven to keep warm.

Take out the chicken, carve it and serve it to the table with all the sides and the gravy. Add the feta to the pumpkin at the last minute.  A family feast!

Then act really tired and make yourself scarce – there will be a pile of washing up.

An Old Name in a New Era

So the Tulloch name survived and here we are alive and thriving to tell the tale 120 years on.

Although we remain a family company, investment in the brand by our partners combined with a modern business structure is now at the heart of our success.

Times they have a changed, and I have no doubt that the company my children (or one of my siblings children) inherit, and their children inherit, and so on and so forth, will look very different in another 120 years, come 2135.

It’s hard to imagine how the Australian Wine Industry will look in 2135, how will consumers tastes and demands have changed, will tradition, respect and authenticity endure as principles that underscore success and longevity?  Only time will tell.

My Board of Directors are a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to wine industry cycles and they often muse about the good old days. For me, I have only known this industry against a tough and ruthless landscape, ruled by trading terms, production efficiencies, new media know how, a well financed and very active anti-alcohol lobby and a severe and debilitating production and demand imbalance.

Despite these odds, our dedication and commitment to handing this great brand down to a new generation is unwavering.  The support of Australians underpins the future success of  small family owned Australian companies and is paramount to the dream of succession.  Not just for the wine industry, but for all those whose generations toil against the odds and nature to carve a piece of history into this countries young landscape. The message is simple, where possible choose Australian – owned, made, grown, packaged, financed.  Help us keep the great stories of our generations and our country alive for many years to come.

Click here for the final chapter in the Tulloch story: Tulloch Timeline Part 3

When a family company is no longer owned by the family

We often hear how the wine industry is not well suited to the rigours required of public companies.  A lack of long term vision, commitment and strategy, combined with the ruthless and merciless obligation to declare dividends, means an agricultural pursuit like wine will never be a good fit.

So what becomes of a successful well known family wine brand, when the family cease to control the entity?  Can it survive?

Click for part two of the Tulloch Story: Tulloch Timeline Part 2

I’m exhausted and I’ve just worked out why

Where did the month of November go? Straight to my hips I’m guessing!  Yes, this time of year is both heaven and hell for me. Countless dinners and drinks and the nervous wait for vintage 2015.  Here’s a quick wrap up of some of the last months highlights.

 

Family time before the madness

The silly season is a ridiculously busy time in the wine industry, so I managed to squeeze in a couple of days hanging out with my gorgeous kids in the Hunter combining business and pleasure.  Just the tonic before the silly season hit and they wondered where there mum had disappeared to.

A weekend Away

Next up, a weekend away at stunning Killcare with good mates for some fun in the sun.  I cooked one of my favourite chicken dishes for the crew on the Saturday night, pomegranate chicken with Lebanese caprese salad, roast potatoes and carrots in cumin and honey.  I love a meal that involves ripping meat off a bone with your bare hands.  Unfortunately, I was way too busy eating and drinking to get any food porn shots, but this is the cookbook the recipes came from and it comes highly recommended! Comptoir Libanais Cook Book

 

Some Serious Tasting

Work, work, work and no play. Well let’s face it, my work is quite like play as you can see from this tasting with the Camperdown Cellars Team who visited the hunter for a fine wine immersion.  My kind of immersion!

 

And …. some more tasting at Ladies Wine Options

What better way to finish a week than a good old night of options with the ladies.  The theme was Great Southern Riesling hosted by the lovely Sally Margan and what an unexpected treat.  Have to admit I had no prior expectations of this area, but I will definitely be including some of their wines on my ‘to drink list’ in the future.  Big thanks should also go to my Dad, who was kind enough to be my designated driver and pick me up from dinner way later than he would’ve liked to have been up.  Thanks dad!  Line up of wines below, with a particular mention for Castle Rock Estate, which had some very impressive drops. http://www.castlerockestate.com.au/

First Bracket – Castle Rock Estate

Castle Rock Estate is nestled on the eastern slopes of the Porongurup mountain range and is named after a prominent nearby landmark. The vineyard has a cool and elevated northerly aspect, resulting in intensely flavoured wines.

  1. 2014 Porongurup Riesling** $23 – Silver Qantas WA Wine Show 2014. 96 Points Halliday Top 100 2014 **My pick of the night
  2. 2013 Skywalk Riesling $20
  3. 2012 OD Riesling $19

Second Bracket – Judging Bracket

  1. 2014 Galafrey Riesling $20  Mt Barker I had this as a silver but it was  Gold at the Qantas WA Wine Show 2014
  2. 2014 Harewood Estate Riesling Gold $21 – Denmark Top Gold Trophy at Qantas WA Wine Show 2014
  3. 2014 West Cape Howe Mt Barker Riesling no medals $19 – Mt Barker Hallidays Top 100 2014 97 Points

Third Bracket (with cheese)

  1. 2012 West Cape Howe Tempranillo  – Frankland/Perth Hills $19
  2. 2012 Plantaganet Shiraz – Mt Barker $39.99

 

The 70th Birthday Bash (not mine!)

And on the parties and drinking and eating continued…..  Saturday night was a special night as my sister and I threw a belated combined 70th birthday party for my parents and 30 of their closest friends.  What a night! So much fun, so many great stories and just a bunch of really old mates enjoying great food, great wine and great friendship.  A truly humbling occasion and the highlight, the Imperial of 1986 Hector Limited Release Shiraz, still so very youthful, just like my gorgeous parents.

 

Educate, Drink, Eat, Taste, Learn, Play, Repeat!

The last week of November is a bit of a blur… but involved lashings of all of the above.  At this point a special shout out should go to the amazing team at the Cellar Restaurant who managed to feed me for something like 6 meals in one week.  http://the-cellar-restaurant.com.au/ Now you know why November went straight to my hips! Wednesday a presentation and meeting with a potential buyer, Wednesday night dinner for my Coraggio Advisory Board (4 courses and 4 brackets  of 4 wines each), Thursday a meeting of my Advisory board at Tulloch, followed by wine appreciation and a winery visit and you guessed it … wine tasting!  Then home, sweet home for our street party on Saturday afternoon with our fun neighbours and their families.  We’re pretty sure we are the friendliest street in Sydney and luckily for me they all enjoy a few glasses of wine too.

 

Member’s Christmas Party at Sydney Dance Cafe

Fabulous venue, really awesome vibe and what a crowd.  As always, I am genuinely humbled and overwhelmed by how lovely our wine club members are and their unwavering support.  Thank you to you all.

 

Wine Dinner at Ottimo Italian Kitchen in Hunters Hill

What a great suburban restaurant.  All proud Italians serving up deliciously authentic Italian fare with thoughtful Tulloch wine matches.  The scampi was to die for and the lemon butter Verdelho reduction sauce, ridiculously moreish.  Thank you to the chef and owner for my takeaway container of the left over sauce, I had to stop myself putting it on toast the next morning!  This place is everything I love about suburban dining in Sydney, it’s really honest and they have a wonderfully loyal local following that makes a wine dinner at a place like this instantly  convivial.

 

Time to Party Tulloch Style

First week of December, which can only mean one thing.  It’s time for the Tulloch Christmas Party.  A big thanks to the team at Emersons for hosting us for an indulgent 6 course degustation http://www.emersonsrestaurant.com.au/  I managed to only make one staff member cry (don’t ask… I’m blaming the emotional effects of Chardonnay), I didn’t forget to thank anyone in my speech, only one staff member got a bit too tipsy and fell over and I managed to convince my Dad to be the designated driver… again, so I was tucked up in bed by midnight.  Pretty good effort if I may say so myself. Big shout out to Mel and The Giant for  really interesting wine choices and exercises (matching current vintage Tulloch products with the same varietals from another region).  The Tulloch Limited Release 2008 Julia Semillon against the Peter Lehmann 2009 Margaret Semillon was a real battle of the matriarchs.  A huge thank you to the amazing team at Tulloch wines, they are all so doggedly dedicated and passionate, I owe them so very much and I am very thankful for each and everyone of them and their individual contributions.

 

5 days till holidays

Last Tulloch social event for the year …. our local Christmas Drinks at Cellar Door.  This meant it was time to get our Christmas on, and I managed to unnerve everyone when I arrived in the Hunter early Monday morning singing Christmas Carols and asking the location of our decorations so I could ‘festivise’ the cellar door.  You see I’ve always been of the, less is more philosophy when it involves anything glittery or sparkly, but becoming a parent changed all that and as my oldest is now 4 and REALLY into Christmas, I guess it has sort of rubbed off on me.  Super Brad almost had to wrestle the Christmas decorations off me for fear of the cellar door looking like Christmas had thrown up on it.  For once, some one was reminding me that less is more. Thank you to all the locals who joined us for Christmas drinks, we are grateful for your ongoing support and we look forward to continuing to put the Hunters best foot forward with you in 2015.

 

It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later…

And now the end of my working year draws near and I will leave for 3 weeks holiday with my beautiful family, from whom I have been far too absent too often this year.  To my husband: I know when I am away and you can see my social media streams showing copious amounts of eating and drinking in various fantastic establishments, that it doesn’t look like I am in fact working.  Thank you for making what I do possible and for being a truly modern man and kid wrangler.  To my team at Tulloch, thank you for all your hard work.

And for me, it’s over and out for another year, I’ll see you all in the New Year for more adventures of the eating, drinking and being merry, kind.  Merry Christmas to you and your families and wishing you all a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

I think I’ll pour myself a glass of chardy and have a lay down! Christina Tulloch xx

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PS. Keep an eye out for all the fabulous events and dinners we have planned in 2015 .  First out of the blocks will be a Tulloch Dinner at one of my favourite Hunter eateries, County Dining.  I hope to see you there!

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How to navigate a wine list like a pro

Wine lists are no longer just the humble keepers of social lubricants.  Instead they have become award-winning novels full of prose, descriptors and unpronounceable obscurities.  As our palates have matured and our curiosity in everything epicurean has peaked, the sommeliers of the city have upped the ante and we are now faced with some pretty big vinous decisions when dining out.  

In the days of yesteryear, an ill thought out wine selection simply ended in a bad hangover, but our modern wine waiters now assume we have some knowledge and we know how to use it.

Budget, Variety (as in grape variety), Region and Brand are key.  Know a little bit about all four and you’ll soon unlock the secret to sipping satisfaction for every occasion.

 

MY TOP TIPPLE TIPS

Get the Sommelier on side.

Wine lists are a sommeliers labour of love, they don’t need to be yours too.  You’re out to dinner, you want to relax and quite frankly, it shouldn’t feel like hard work. Don’t waste time deciphering a really serious autobiographical account of the sommeliers vinous coming of age, ask for their help.  This is what they do for a living, they can assist with all your wine wanderings and make you look good in the process. That said, be specific with your budget and if you don’t want to risk being disappointed, stick to a varietal you know you have enjoyed in the past.  If you don’t want to appear completely out of your depth or cheap, advise the sommelier of your budget or general preferences before he presents his oenological offerings to the whole table.

 

Want to go it alone?

You’d rather spend the evening conversing with your guests than dissecting the wine list with the sommelier?  You also don’t want to die of thirst wondering whether the bio dynamic Blaufrankish is worth $180 and if you will make a fool of yourself trying to order it?  There are a lot of idiosyncratic, international, overpriced, unknowns on wine lists these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to order the second cheapest wine on the list and hope for the best (no one ever orders the cheapest because they think it will make them look …. well, cheap!).

If you need a chardy stat, start at the index.  The bigger the list, the more useful the contents page will prove to be and you can skip directly to ordering something to loosen the larynx while musing over that unpronounceable the sommelier is steering you towards.  Most indexes or contents pages will have the wines listed by either region, varietal or both, so you should be able to quickly navigate to an area or style that you feel comfortable with.

 

Wine by the glass or the bottle?

Wines by the glass are also helpfully usually at the front of the list.  Quite clever, because you’ll probably order a glass of something prior to perusing the list in its full glorious entirety, but you need a glass of something while you do so.  ‘Wine by the Glass’ lists, are usually short and sweet with a few familiar usual suspects.  They should principally be made up of known varietals/brands/regions or a combination thereof.  If you plan on having more than two glasses, it will almost certainly be more cost effective to order a bottle.  If in doubt, stick with a brand you have heard, chances are you’ve heard of them because they’re good at what they do.  And remember, the best wine is the one you like the most, not necessarily the most expensive one.

 

You want to look like you know what you’re doing.

You need a safe choice that signals you are ordering with an air of confidence and won’t be seduced by high priced hipster wines with fancy labels and no pedigree?  Certain varietals grow well in certain regions, certain countries are known for certain wine styles.  So, if you stick to a few basics here you shouldn’t have any issues selecting a modestly priced wine showing regional and varietal definition (that’s a good thing). You’ll also be letting the Sommelier know you have enough knowledge not to be taken advantage of, but just enough to be taken seriously. Use descriptors like; full bodied or light, sweet or dry, and indicate a price bracket so they can give you options.   Something that matches to your meal is also important, so decide on the food before you call the Sommelier over.  Try, “a medium bodied red to go with meat, between $80-$100.”

 

The best wine styles from the best regions.

By no means exhaustive, buy you will rarely go wrong with these variety / region combinations. Semillon from the Hunter Valley, Sparkling from Tassie,  Chardonnay from Margaret River or the Yarra Valley, Sav Blanc from the Adelaide Hills, Pinot Gris from Orange and Riesling from the Clare or Eden Valley for some safe, but satisfying white choices. For the reds, Pinot Noir from Victoria or Tasmania, medium bodied Shiraz from the Hunter, full bodied Shiraz and Shiraz blends from the Barossa and McLaren Vale and Cabernet from WA. Across the ditch, Pinot from Central Otago in NZ and Sav Blanc from the North Island (think Marlborough).

 

Australian or International?

Further afield and international wines can get a bit more complex.  Big lists tend to divide the main varietals by old world (France, Italy, and Spain) and New World (Australia, NZ, America, Chile, and South Africa). The Old World system is very tightly controlled and requires explanation.  The wines are usually a blend and the focus is on the region, which will dictate the style. This is definitely the time to seek counsel from the sommelier or stick with one of the well-known regions within your price bracket.   Champagne, Chablis, Burgundy or Bordeaux from France, Chianti, Montelpuciano or Pinto Grigio from Italy and Rioja from Spain.

 

Do your research!

Conveniently many restaurants now publish their wine lists on line along with their menus.  If you want to impress, but still don’t feel confident making a sound choice on the spot with an audience, do your research before you arrive.  Better yet, phone a friend.  Friends call me from restaurants all the time or sometimes even email me the list in advance.  If you can’t get hold of me, it’s time to call in the professionals and get advice from the sommelier.  If they’re good at their job and value keeping it (which is usually the case) then they’ll steer you in the direction of a fine wine, every time.

 

This post originally appeared on The Carousel, follow this link for more awesome Carousel content.

http://thecarousel.com/recipes/entertaining-wine/navigate-wine-list-like-pro/

 

The Story of Mother Hen & The Big Friendly Giant

As I promised in my last post, I’m going to introduce you to two more lovely members of team Tulloch.  Chances are, if you’ve ever had contact with Tulloch, one of these two have crossed your path.  They are the people our customers love and the front of our house.  They are true ‘people’ people, the best kind to have as the first point of contact for your company.   Josie Jo and The Giant are all that and a little bit more, they are proud members of our team and I am equally proud and honoured to have them as part of  mine.

 

Joanne Phillips (AKA Josie Jo, Mother Hen and simply ‘Jo’)

 

 

Jo is our Wine Club Supervisor and has been with Tulloch since 2006.  She first started in cellar door sales but soon moved to a full time wine club position …..  and the rest as they say, is history.  What Jo doesn’t know about  our wine club members, they probably don’t know about themselves.  But, what makes her relationship with our members special is her empathetic spirit and her desire to be more than just a voice at the end of the phone.  She knows all manner of intimate details about ‘her’ members because she cares, she is genuinely interested, she wants to know how she can help and she wants to make sure she not only meets their expectations but exceeds them. This is what I call authenticity, and it is at the heart of all successful small businesses in this day and age.  It is a skill that can’t be taught or learnt, it is an inherent personality trait that speaks volumes about the type of person she is.  It’s a sincerity that can’t be faked, or turned on and off at will, it is a genuineness that so few people possess these days, that when they do and they shine their light on you, you feel like the only person in the room.  I know our members love Jo by the incredible and unsolicited  amount of positive feedback I get about her.  Only recently we held our Sydney Harbour Cruise Events and everyone wanted to see the famous Jo!  However …….  Jo doesn’t like boats, confrontation or stairs.  Her world revolves around her family and the light of her life, her daughter.  She religiously brings her lunch to work (as only an organised person does) and she puts up with all manner of requests from staff and customers alike. She loves animals and kids and her favourite wine is Verscato.  She is a brand advocate in the true sense of the word and her value to our business and this team shouldn’t be measured in dollars and cents, but smiles and years of service; 8 and counting!

 

Steve B George (AKA The BFG – Big Friendly Giant, The Giant, The Fat Controller, The Bearded One)

Not the kind of man to have a nickname without the prefix, ‘The’.  The BFG is our Cellar Door Manager and it is hard to know where to even start with this character???  He is larger than life, fills a room and takes the term brand advocate to a whole new level.  He’s called the Fat Controller because he makes the cellar door hum like only the best maître d in a 3 hat restaurant can, directing traffic, doing five tastings at once, keeping the staff moving, stroking his beard and making sales.  He is wise and a little bit prickly, and loves nothing more than a good old chat and to stir the pot.  He is bit of a chef, a complete wine buff (but in a really fun and engaging way), he knows a whole lot about social media and how to make it do what you want.  He loves technology, boys toys, beer, Hunter Semillon, Newcastle and ……. Beards!  He’s the kind of guy you would describe as a Top Bloke and he’s definitely what you’d call a blokes bloke.  A family man with a super cute  little girl who has him firmly wrapped around her itty bitty finger, a son who is so like him that it drives him to pure distraction, and a gorgeous partner who keeps him on his toes to the point it is sometimes like watching an elephant do ballet.  At the heart of it all, Steve loves people.  He is interested in what you have to say and he wants to know more.  The Giant brings experience, shit stirring, passion, cake, beards and big old belly laughs to the team.  He has taught me a lot and I have a feeling my lessons aren’t over yet, which is a good thing, because his enthusiasm is infectious and his ability to motivate a team is pretty impressive too.  His favourite expression is, “Really? I mean …. Really?”  Spare a thought for Steve, he works pretty much every weekend and all public holidays, so he’s one of the friendliest guys with the most unfriendly hours, but that’s what happens when everyone wants a piece of you!  And, did I mention he loves a selfie and getting #ridiculous.  When it comes to Steve a picture really is better than a thousand words!