The waft of an angel’s armpit

8 03 2011

March. The pious amongst us would be anticipating the imminent arrival of Easter. The slightly less pious amongst us would be anticipating the arrival of an immoderate amount of chocolate and a long weekend. Those of us who absolutely don’t give a shit will find Saint Patrick’s Day to be the only thing in March* vaguely resembling any sort of occasion meriting celebration; any opportunity to provide a pseudo-excuse for being liquored up to the eyeballs is welcome, frankly. The fact that I’m not in the slightest bit Irish (nor are 99% of the people who observe the day either, I suspect) is irrelevant. As it happens, the only hesitation I have concerning Saint Patrick’s Day is the fact that I’m partially colourblind – try to imagine pulling out an assortment of clothing from your wardrobe that you suspect to be green, only to be (repeatedly) told by your housemate, “Nope, that’s brown… brown… brown…”

*(Nota bene: I must also tip my hat and lend my support to the Sydney Mardi Gras and International Women’s Day. Having said this, whilst I may use Saint Patrick’s Day as a convenient pretext for getting blotto, it’s rare that I find myself seeking a convenient pretext to be gay or a woman… mostly rare…)

March also brings the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival for 2011. There are some rather curious events on the calendar (An Evening of Offal, anyone?), but unfortunately, attendance at more than a handful of these will be out of reach for anyone who isn’t raking in some good coin. However, last week I attended the soundly-priced and brilliantly-named The Smelly Gorgonzola at Terra Rossa on Flinders Lane. For $25 per head my cohort and I each received four different wines produced by Campbells of the Rutherglen region, and four different cheeses to match.

A well-rounded lunch.

So, the wine/cheese pairings were as follows…

Bobbie Burns Shiraz / Toma Piemontese, Liquid Gold Classic Rutherglen Topaque / King Island Ash Blue, Classic Rutherglen Muscat / King Island Roaring 40s, Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat / ???… evidently I was enveloped in some sort of booze’n’cheese haze by the end so as to completely forget to note the name of the final morsel, all I recall is that it was an Italian blue cheese. The soft-spoken Italian curd-wrangler introducing his wares was barely audible over the din of the kitchen and other diners.

Whilst I tend to gravitate towards stronger flavours (likely some sort of fallout from eating far too much fiery food), I found the King Island Ash Blue to be particularly agreeable despite its profile being at the softer end of the spectrum of blue cheeses, and not simply due to any sort of affinity with its name.  Turns out it’s called “Ash Blue” as they roll the wheel in the ashes of burnt coconut husks, moreso for the sake of tradition now than any other purpose. Not to say I found any of the other cheeses – or any of the wines, for that matter – to be at all disagreeable. I know bugger-all about wine, frankly, although the shiraz was gentler than I had expected, and lived up to its claims of having “a core of raspberry and black cherry fruit”. Good stuff. The Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat, weighing in at a purse-smashing $120 for a 375mL bottle (all thanks to a perfect 100 score in Wine Spectator magazine, thus placing this drop out of the reach of most people) was sublime. The colossally intense burst of raisins was reminiscent of the Pedro Ximénez sherries I occasionally drink, but had far greater balance and depth to it.

The waitress must have had some sixth sense for habitual elbow-benders in the immediate vicinity, as we were offered an extra glass of muscat belonging to some unlucky sods who had failed to materalise. No complaints there. I’m certainly keen to head back to Terra Rossa at some point in the future, as the venue and atmosphere was extremely comfortable.

There are a couple more events in the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival that I’ll be attending over the coming week… you’ll certainly be hearing about them here once I get my act together.

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