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Friday, November 23, 2012

Road Trip: Wine Regions of South Australia

The beginning of any driving holiday is always an exciting time for me - starting from
calling the car rental company to gathering all the print and digital maps,
from refreshing my memory about driving on the destination's side of the road to figuring out the general direction to head towards, from stocking up on savoury snacks and fizzy beverages at gas stations to fiddling with the cruise control buttons.  Planning driving itineraries has never been my strong suit, but I'm ok with long as my road trip buddies are too. 
Personally, I like having that little tinge of uncertainty about where I'm going,
what I will see along the way, when I will move forward, or how I intend to do any of the above. 
A good road trip, to me, is an unhurried one, a surprising one, and that which is filled with
infinite possibilities as wide and open as the road in front of me.

This is my road trip to the wine regions of McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley,
and Adelaide Hills in South Australia.
Atop the Bluff at Victor Harbour
Rosetta Head Wharf, Victor Harbour
Perusing the chalkboard menu at Star of Greece Cafe at Port Willunga
A very tasty lunch (the Fish Wrap is superb) at Star of Greece Cafe, Port Willunga.
This was an unexpected thrill and a first for me: driving right on the beach in Adlinga.
Overlooking Myponga Reservoir Wall. Getting to drive on it was another first.
The very picturesque Hahndorf, one of Australia's oldest surviving German settlements,
just 30 minutes southeast of Adelaide
Display of Aussie humour in Hahndorf
Pretty streetsights in Hahndorf
Curbside seating at The Farmgate Providore in Hahndorf,
which has a gorgeous display of freshly baked breads and pastries.
Young vines in McLaren Vale
Sunset near Gomersal Wines in Lyndoch (Barossa Valley)
Miles and miles of red roses in full bloom by the road side 
Driving on Seppeltsfied Road enroute to Two Hands Wines
Ready for a tasting at Two Hands Wines.  Drove away with bottles of the 2010 Bella Garden Shiraz
(#3 Wine Spectator Top 100) and 2011 Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon.
The last dinner of my road trip was at this romantically retro Lyndoch Hill Restaurant.
Features a seasonal Australian menu and affable, chatty service.

(All photos taken with the Sony Cyber-shot rx100)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From Brando to Barossa

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.  
The first time I heard this poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer, I was 10 and had just seen my first of
many, many, many multiple viewings of Superman II - the one directed by Richard Lester. 
The lines were intoned by Jor-El, technically played by Marlon Brando and also by John Hollis,
but that's a whole different back story.  Anyhow, this memory is just atypical of my childhood
sponge-years and another instance of how pop culture heavily influenced my
literary inclinations in the early years.
Long story short, my thoughts had flitted on this poem from time to time throughout the decades,
but it'd never really bubbled much above my consciousness until I embarked on this road trip to South Australia's bountiful wine regions (Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills,) and saw the beautiful and diverse cross section of trees in Adelaide and beyond. 
Of course, it helps greatly that they are set against spectacularly dramatic backdrops
generously provided by the sky and the good earth.
Here are some of my favourite images that I'd captured on my new-ish Sony RX-100:


Saturday, November 10, 2012

In Plane View: Adelaide, Australia

Sometimes I get lucky and the perfect trifecta of a window seat, clear skies and an unbeatable view of my destination upon approaching the airport.

This is Adelaide.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Bite-Size Review: Dinner at Waterfall Cafe (Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore)

So I'd written about my breakfast experience at the new-ish Waterfall Café here, and by the look of the page views and links from Google searches to my post (yay for their awe-inspiring analytics), the restaurant is seeing quite a lot of activity in the online realm.  And that popularity is mirrored in real-life too, as I personally found out when I went back for more nosh in late August, only this time it was in the evening. 
The fantastic and exceedingly refreshing watermelon and tomato salad
Now as much as I loved the breakfast here, the dinner did not disappoint either.  I was with a couple of old friends, and between us, we'd ordered a good cross section of the menu.  The café was relatively full that evening which created an unfortunate backlog in the kitchen.  That caused a severe finger-tapping lull in the service whereupon there was a 45-minute wait between the time they cleared away our appetizers and when our mains finally made an appearance.  Luckily, as I'd mentioned, we were with extremely good pals so the convos kept us in relatively good spirits....but still.......45 minutes.......that's a primetime Presidential debate right there.  The upside was that the mains, when they finally came, were excellent and so were the "surprise" desserts that were the compliments of an extremely apologetic and soothing restaurant manager. 

Here are some of the recommended highlights of what we had:
Chilled gazpacho with basil and mozzarella
Iberico pork chop with sautéed corn, carrots, zucchini and caramelized pineapple

Slow baked veal cheek with sage, capers, eggplant, tomato and celery

My personal favourite: Oven-baked lamb leg with thyme,
roasted spicy potatoes and vegetable fricassee
Coconut cream panna cotta with strawberry confit

Lychee soup with summer fruits, exotic fruit cube and orange sherbet
View from our dining table of the outdoor terrace and swimming pool beyond.
Waterfall Café at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore - 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350.
Telephone:  +65 6213 4138

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Where It All Began for A Muggle

What and where should one visit when in the capital of Scotland?
Let's see, there's the Edinburgh Castle, Royal Yacht Brittania, National Museum of Scotland,
Royal Botanic Garden, and of course, The Elephant House - the "place of inspiration"
for J.K. Rowling way back when Harry Potter was a mere
Ollivanders' wand wave away from creation.

And they serve a mean Portobello mushroom burger in there too.

The Elephant House - 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1EN, United Kingdom

Telephone +44 131 220 5355

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