A few years ago, I did a Donna Hay cooking class somewhere down on the Mornington Peninsula. I wasn’t that keen on her then, but I’ve mellowed a bit (maybe it’s an age thing … OK, it’s an age thing).
The biggest things to come out of that day were learning to soak olives in vodka, and the subsequent hangover after an amazing lunch at the T’Gallant winery. The olives taste great and the vodka afterwards is sensational. I’ve since done olive shooters as a starter for a dinner party (soak ’em for a couple of hours at least) and they’re always a hit, in more ways than one.
I saw Hay on the telly the other night, preparing three-cheese pasta, and I thought I’d have a crack at something similar. I’m glad I did.
I used L’Abruzzese organic durum wheat fettuccine, which, at about seven bucks, is not cheap, but it’s worth the price of admission. And it cooks in about six minutes.
The sauce took about the same time. Too easy. A big chunk of butter melted gently in a pot, a handful of cubed Jarlsberg and a handful of fresh ricotta, and about a quarter of a cup of freshly grated parmesan, all stirred gently until it became a creamy glug. Then I stirred in a handful of finely chopped fresh tarragon and threw in a big chunk of blue Castello (which may not have been the blue cheese of choice, but it’s what I had in the fridge).
I stirred the sauce (OK, mine is four cheeses) through the pasta, threw some finely chopped fresh basil on top along with more grated parmesan and it was the end of the penny section. Bloody good ride it was, too. It was salty, sweet, savoury and very, very moorish. I’m planning to try it again, the next time with a scoop of crème fraiche just to make it a little runnier.
I washed it down with a glass or two (all right, a bottle) of Amherst Pyrenees Dunn’s Paddock Shiraz 2009, which is somewhere in the mid-20 buck range. It’s a modest 13.6% alcohol and has a screwtop. Good drink it is, a deep colour with berry fruit (your call) and a bit of chocolate on the nose and nice oak and no-over-the-top tannins. It lasts in the mouth. In the bottle as well if you, unlike me, have the ability to put it down for a few years.
But it wasn’t the best wine I’ve had this past week, and I’ve had a few: 2004 Oomoo sparkling shiraz (see last week), Wedgetail Estate 2009 chardonnay (very good), a Yarra Valley cleanskin chardonnay (a beauty) and Chateau de Sours Rose from Bordeaux (a bloody cracker) among them. Nah, the best wine I’ve had this week is going to be a regular inhabitant of my fridge over summer. It’s a 2011 Margaret River chenin blanc from Swords Wines and it’s summer in a bottle at just 11.8% alcohol.
On the nose, it’s fruity, with buckets of lemon/lime things and melon, although I’m convinced that there is passionfruit and fresh basil. In the mouth again there’s citrus and melon and it lingers longer than a St Kilda supporter waiting for a flag. It’s a touch sweet (the wine, definitely not the Saints fan, and a very good thing in this case) with fresh, clean acidity. I love it.
I’ve gotta fess up that the first bottle I tried was a freebie from Dave, the manager of Swords at the South Melbourne Market, who suggested I should review it. I’ve bought it three times since.