Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cider Sunday - Oakvale Apple Cider

With only one day left of the year, many people will look back and reflect on the year that was. I have been fortunate enough to try many new ciders and as the market continues to explode I look forward to an even bigger and better year for cider in 2013.

This week's cider is produced by Oakvale Wines in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, NSW. These guys have been making wine for over 120 years and have established an excellent reputation within the industry. 


When this beauty arrived on my doorstep I knew it was going to be good, so much so that I put it straight in the fridge to save for Christmas Day with my family. Although tempted to sample it sooner, I managed to save it for Christmas lunch.

With a very fine and light carbonation you can tell that this cider has been made by winemakers - first off by the fact that it reminds me somewhat of champagne with just a hint of must coming through.

It is definitely a well crafted cider. It has a nice balanced sweetness and good acidic structure. With a slightly dry finish, this one was the perfect choice for our lunch. 

We enjoyed this cider with a feast which consisted of: Pete's baked turkey with special stuffing made with wild rice, quinoa crumbs, sage, bacon and leek. As well as pulled pork sliders w/ crackling, Auntie K's delicious roast pumpkin and blue cheese salad, Uncle J's Greek salad and a selection of roast vegetables.

Later, we enjoyed some traditional Christmas pudding and a little trifle.

Everyone really enjoyed this cider and the only complaint we had was that we finished it too quickly.


RRP $18.00 per 750ml bottle
Available: Online here

Tell me, which apple cider will you be enjoying this New Years Eve? Will you be out partying or having a quiet one?

The Food Mentalist sampled Oakvale Apple Cider compliments of Oakvale Wines.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Breakfast @ Eichardts, Queenstown - NZ

Usually before we travel anywhere, I jump on the Internet and scour websites trying to find popular and/or unique restaurants and places to eat. Often I secure reservations prior to traveling - it's part of the fun. It amuses Pete, but he is usually happy with the places I discover.



With Queenstown being a popular tourist town I didn't know what to expect, but we were quite taken with Eichardts. We first dined here one night and sampled their tapas menu, I had several cocktails and Pete got his NZ Pinot fix. We liked it so much that we decided to try their breakfast on our final morning in Queenstown before driving back to Christchurch.

Eichardts is a small boutique hotel on the waterfront in Queenstown and is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. 



The bar and dining area is open to the public and is a small intimate space with comfy lounges, a cosy fireplace and excellent friendly service.



Wakatipu NZ$17 
I decided to have Wakatipu, named after Lake Wakatipu - New Zealand's longest lake located on the South Island. These fluffy buttermilk blueberry pancakes are served with maple glazed banana, a small pot of maple syrup and some vanilla anglaise. They are simply divine and would have to be the best pancakes I have ever tasted.

Fresh delicious OJ
The Branches NZ$16 ( side of mushrooms extra)
The Branches is a stunning luxury High Country Station in Queenstown, and at $10K a night, this breakfast is a little more affordable. Two free range eggs cooked any style, Havoc free-range bacon served with toast and a delicious house made tomato chutney. Pete also orders a side of grilled mushrooms which are plump and perfectly cooked.


As we depart Queenstown, we marvel at the low clouds and snow capped mountains whilst watching a couple parasail around the bay.


Tell me, have you been to Queenstown, NZ and do you often scope out places to eat before you travel?

Eichardts Private Hotel
Marine Parade
Queenstown, 9348
Ph: +64 3 441 0450
Eichardts Bar is open 7:30am til late
Breakfast is served 7:30am - 11am
Website http://www.eichardts.com/


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cider Sunday - Zeffer Apple Cider (NZ)

This week's cider comes from the Zeffer Brewing Co. in Matakana in New Zealand.


I love the name which was taken from the sailing term Zephyr meaning : A light breeze.

Matakana, a small town located on the northernmost part of the North Island forms part of the Rodney District and is a popular foodie destination. The area is dotted with small boutique shops, vineyards, farmers markets, cafes and restaurants.

Made using a blend of NZ grown apples, the apples are crushed and brewed for up to 3 months. With a light sparkle and dry finish this cider is crisp and refreshing. It does not contain any added sugar and has a medium balanced sweetness.

In terms of flavour, it has a nice apple taste and is a good typical/standard apple cider.

This one can be enjoyed on it's own with lots of ice and would pair well with barbecued meats and salads. A good choice for summer.

At 5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

At this stage Zeffer is only available in Victoria, Tasmania and Perth. To find out more check out their stockist information here



I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy break over the holidays. Next Sunday will of course be our final Cider Sunday for 2012.

What are you up to over the Christmas break?

The Food Mentalist purchased Zeffer Apple Cider in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt w/ Cuisinart

For the longest time I have been bugging Pete, telling him we must buy an ice cream maker. One of my closest buddies has been experimenting and wowing us with her ice cream creations for quite a while now and I have always wanted to do the same. I also have fond memories of my friend Honey's Mum making delicious home made vanilla ice cream for us when we were kids. I can still taste it now when I think back - it was really creamy and tasted like real food, not some chemical experiment. 
What drew me to the Cuisinart brand was that it comes in a variety of funky colours and my friend raves about hers. It's also very well priced at $89.95 on GraysOutlet online. 
So when I was asked if I wanted to partake in the GraysOutlet cooking challenge I was wrapped. From a choice of two recipes Pete and I decided to try the raspberry frozen yogurt as we are on a bit of a health kick at the moment and have incorporated fruit and yogurt into our daily snacks. This was the perfect way to combine the two.


Using the below recipe was easy - I simply tweaked it a little to suit our dietary requirements. Feel free to reduce the sugar and use low fat alternatives if you like.

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt




Serving size: 10 1/2-cup servings

340g fresh red raspberries (or frozen, thawed)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cups fat free or low fat vanilla yogurt
Place the raspberries and sugar in a blender jar (or food processor fitted with the metal blade) and blend on high until smooth and homogeneous. If desired pour through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the seeds (press with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula).
Transfer raspberry liquid to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and yogurt with a whisk. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn on ice cream maker and pour in ingredients. Allow to mix and freeze until desired serving consistency is reached. Begin checking consistency after 12 to15 minutes of freezing.
If frozen yogurt is not thick enough, pour back into the freezer bowl and continue mixing/freezing until desired consistency is reached, checking every few minutes.
Serve in cups or cones, adding mix-ins while dispensing frozen yogurt.
----------------------

I enjoyed making this, it was really easy and will be perfect over the Christmas break. I can't wait to start experimenting. Summer sorbets & frozen yogurts will be a regular at our house from now on and rich luscious ice cream for the occasional treat or when we have guests over. 

Next up, I'm going to make a low fat vanilla bean sorbet.


Tell me, what is your ultimate ice cream creation?

The Food Mentalist road-tested the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yoghurt - Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker compliments of Grays Outlet online.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cider Sunday - dcider

If you're not sure you are a cider drinker, then the makers of this weeks cider want you to try theirs. In a clever marketing campaign they want it to be the dcider. 

(Source - dcider online)
I love the name and absolutely LOVE this cider. 

In a market which has been flooded by so many new entrants, many of which taste very similar - this one stands out for all the right reasons.

Dcider is made using 100% Batlow apples, with a combination of 50% pink lady and 50% blend which includes varieties such as Red Delicious, Gala and Galaxy.

Produced by the winemakers of Eling Forest Wine Making Services in the Southern Highlands of NSW, you may remember I first introduced you to these guys when they produced The Apple Thief  . Well, those guys have since moved on and Eling is now producing the dcider.

A very light carbonation settles quickly revealing a crisp and delicious cider with lovely rounded sweetness, with just a hint of caramel. It is more of a complex, well structured cider and what sets it apart is the fact that it creates more creamy characters on the palate, more so than any cider I have tasted. It's so moreish and delicious that I quickly finished my first glass before I realised I was supposed to be analysing it. Whoops! 

When Pete first tried this one, he too was impressed and agreed it was very different to anything already on the market. 

Dcider is the perfect cider for pre or post dinner drinks and is great served with stronger flavoured foods or a cheese platter with a good stinky blue.


At 4.5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.2 standard drinks.

To find out more and purchase dcider head to their website here

RRP $84.95 per case of 24 x 330ml bottles

The Food Mentalist sampled dcider compliments of Eling Wine Making Services


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nescafé Dolce Gusto - Genio Coffee Machine

Up until very recently I had never tried a pod-style coffee despite having friends and family who rave about them. To be honest, I had never really taken them very seriously. 

Until now.





(Silver model shown)
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto is made my DéLonghi, renowned for making excellent coffee machines. I was intrigued when asked if I wanted to review their Genio machine, one of the main things that piqued my interest was the fact that it makes iced cappuccinos and iced tea. 

Perfect for summer!

The range also includes a long list of beverages:

Espresso Intenso - High on aroma and a velvety crema layer.

Espresso Decaf - A medium roast made from 100% Arabica beans.

Espresso Ristretto - Short and full bodied.

Caffe Americano - A light roasted, smooth blend w/ a mild taste.

Cafe Au Lait - For those who want a regular style coffee with milk.

Chai Tea Latte - Sweet and milky with a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and clove.

Cappuccino - A rich shot of espresso topped with frothy milk.

Skinny Cappuccino - For those of us trying to be good - made with low fat milk :)

Latte Macchiato - A layered coffee with rich espresso, crema and milk.

Skinny Latte Macchiato - Low fat and full of flavour.

Caramel Latte Macchiato - Smooth caramel creamy coffee.

Hot Chocolate - Rich and velvety.

Cappuccino Ice - Perfect for summer. A creamy and refreshing coffee.

Nestea Peach - Refreshing peach flavoured iced tea.

What I loved
  • The machine itself is stylish and makes a great addition to any kitchen bench. It's particularly streamlined so it's perfect for smaller kitchens or those who don't want a large machine taking up all their available bench space.
  • It is fully automatic.
  • It makes coffee FAST! 
  • It tastes good.
  • It comes in black or silver.
  • It's very easy to use. (Even my parents could use it) - Yes, I tested them out :)
  • The pods are colour coded and clearly marked with the intensity you need to adjust the machine dial to ( seen here below )
  • It is great if you have people over and everyone wants a different style of coffee;
  • The froth is good;
  • The capsules are available online and at Coles supermarkets;
  • It's very easy to clean;
  • It's competitively priced - RRP $229
  • The water tank is easy to fill and re-attach to the machine.
  • It comes with a 24 month DéLonghi mechanical and electrical warranty.
  • It makes iced cappuccinos and tea and they taste good.

What I didn't love
  • I love my skim cappuccinos and these pods are only available online. Good if you want to order in bulk but a little annoying if you run out before you remember to re-order as you can't just run down to your local Coles. The same goes for a few other varieties also.
  • The water tank is not huge, so if you are making more than 3-4 cups at time (depending on type of beverage) you may have to refill it. However, as I mentioned before it's super easy and quick.
To find out more about the range and to purchase the pods check out the Nescafé Dolce Gusto site here


The Food Mentalist road-tested the NEW Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio Coffee Machine compliments of Nestlé.These views are the personal views of The Food Mentalist and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nestlé.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cider Sunday - Golden Axe Apple Cider

Having launched in October 2012, Golden Axe cider is a Victorian handcrafted apple cider produced using none other than premium Victorian apples. 


Firstly, I absolutely LOVE the label - a cute little bearded lumberjack man wearing a red check shirt, a red apple beanie, holding a signature axe. The brand was designed by award-winning designer and illustrator Mikey Burton .

Made by a group of self proclaimed beverage geeks, this cider is made using only fresh apple and yeast and does not contain any concentrates or added sugar.

In terms of taste - it's a very clean, light and refreshing apple flavoured cider. It has a lovely balanced sweetness which I like because it is not sickly sweet like many ciders can be. A light carbonation also works well with this cider as it does not leave you feeling overly full like a bubbly cider can. A crisp, slightly tart finish makes this a great cider for hot summer days. 

What sets this cider apart is the process in which it is made. The apple juice is not allowed to oxidise and is crafted using a very clean fermentation process. The result is limited yeasty flavours and aroma by products. It's smart and I like it.

Golden Axe will pair well with fresh summer salads, seafood and grilled meats.

At 5.2% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

Golden Axe cider was also the Runaway Winner of People’s Choice Best Cider at the Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase 2012.



You can catch Golden Axe Cider at the upcoming Ballarat Beer Festival in January 2013.

To find your local stockist click here

RRP $77.00 for a carton - 24 bottles (330ml)

I also wanted to introduce you all to a great new Oz based Cider exclusive website that I love - It's called the Cider Insider and it stocks a great number of new local and international boutique ciders as well as many trusted old favourites. It's also a great resource for lovers of cider as it keeps up to date with upcoming cider events. Yay!


You can check them out here and they stock Golden Axe too!

Hope you are all having a great Sunday. Tell me, which ciders are you enjoying today?


The Food Mentalist sampled Golden Axe Apple Cider compliments of Cider Insider.

Check out these guys on Twitter here:
@CiderInsiderAus 
@GoldenAxeCider 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cider Sunday Sessions w/ Rochdale Cider & Gastro Park

Starting next Sunday, you can visit Bondi's Beach Road Hotel to get your Sunday Cider fix. 



New Zealand's Rochdale Cider and Gastro Park chef Grant King have teamed up to bring us their 'Beached As' Sunday Sessions which will run every Sunday through the months of December and January.




A specially crafted menu will feature three dishes, each of which are available to purchase with a Rochdale cider for $12.50. 

Choices include the following:


Cider Slider
Cider baked pig, crunchy crackles & apple celeriac slaw

Crispy Claw
Crispy cider batter, encasing soft shell crab claws, zingy lemon and lime mayonnaise, wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf with cucumber and coriander.

The Rochdale Frostie
Cider caramelised apple ice cream, granny smith popping candy.

Rochdale Cider

This brightly coloured traditional cider has a light to medium carbonation and a unique cider flavour which you find with more traditional methods of cider making. It is not overly sweet and has a nice balanced apple flavour. A medium dry cider, it is made using tree ripened NZ grown apples and has no preservatives which is a big plus for me. It is a perfect choice for a hot day as it is rfereshing and crisp.

Rochdale is brewed the traditional way by McCashin's in Nelson, New Zealand, whose products are renowned for their use of Palaeo water. You may remember my review of Saxton Apple Cider which also features this famed ingredient. 

Reported as the purest water in the world, it is said to be sourced from one of the oldest and purest water aquifers known to man - untouched for up to 260 centuries. 

Rochdale Cider was actually voted Best Cider (NZ) at the 2012 Beer & Brewer Awards in Australia.


At 5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks.

It terms of food pairing, I don't think you can look past the menu planned by Grant King. Pork, Crab or Caramelised apple ice cream. Yes please!

Rochdale Cider & Gastro Park 'Beached As' combos will be available each Sunday at The Beach Road Hotel's newly launched outdoor bar, The Backyard. 

Rochdale Cider is available at the following hotels in NSW.


BEACH ROAD HOTEL
NSWACT
NORTHIES HOTEL
NSWACT
MONA VALE HOTEL
NSWACT
CARGO HOTEL
NSWACT
BEACH HOTEL - BYRON BAY
NSWACT
CLOVELLY HOTEL
NSWACT
STEYNE HOTEL
NSWACT
PYRMONT BRIDGE HOTEL
NSWACT
PONTOON BAR
NSWACT
GREENWOOD HOTEL - NORTH SYDNEY
NSWACT
SUGAR MILL / KIT & KABOODLE
NSWACT
RYANS BAR - SYDNEY
NSWACT
ROYAL HOTEL - ARMIDALE
NSWACT
ROBIN HOOD HOTEL - ORANGE
NSWACT
MARLBOROUGH HOTEL - NEWTOWN
NSWACT
CELLARBRATIONS BONNELLS BAY - BAY HOTEL
NSWACT
GRANGE HOTEL - WYOMING
NSWACT
PARAGON HOTEL - SYDNEY
NSWACT
CECIL HOTEL - CASINO
NSWACT
OCEAN SHORES TAVERN
NSWACT
HOTEL CREMORNE
NSWACT
LONGYARD HOTEL
NSWACT
AUSTRALIAN HOTEL - STH GRAFTON
NSWACT
PLUMPTON HOTEL
NSWACT
OCEAN BEACH HOTEL - UMINA
NSWACT
COLONIAL HOTEL - WERRINGTON
NSWACT
TOWN HALL HOTEL - NEWTOWN
NSWACT
SEAVIEW TAVERN
NSWACT
CHARCOAL INN HOTEL - CASINO
NSWACT
TEA GARDENS HOTEL - BONDI
NSWACT
ROYAL HOTEL - ORANGE
NSWACT
THE PUB - TAMWORTH
NSWACT
RAILWAY TAVERN - GLEN INNES
NSWACT
WESTSIDE HOTEL - DUBBO
NSWACT
HARRIGANS IRISH PUB - POKOLBIN
NSWACT
GOLDEN SHEAF HOTEL
NSWACT
SHOAL BAY RESORT
NSWACT
KENT HOTEL - HAMILTON
NSWACT
ORCHARD TAVERN - CHATSWOOD
NSWACT
KELLYS ON KING
NSWACT
CLUB HOTEL - WATTLE GROVE
NSWACT
BONDI HOTEL
NSWACT
BELMORE HOTEL - SCONE
NSWACT
LIGHTNING RIDGE BOWLING CLUB
NSWACT
SAWTELL HOTEL
NSWACT
TAREN POINT HOTEL
NSWACT
ST JAMES HOTEL
NSWACT
IMPERIAL HOTEL - WEE WAA
NSWACT
NAMBUCCA HOTEL - MACKSVILLE
NSWACT
PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL - MUSWELLBROOK
NSWACT
VINEYARDS HOTEL - TOURMALINE
NSWACT
GLADSTONE HOTEL - DULWICH HILL
NSWACT
REVESBY PACIFIC
NSWACT
HARBORD BEACH HOTEL
NSWACT
MARLIN HOTEL - ULLADULLA
NSWACT
UNITY HALL HOTEL - BALMAIN
NSWACT
POST OFFICE HOTEL - MOREE
NSWACT
BWS - NEW BRIGHTON HOTEL MANLY
N


To find your local stockist contact McCashin's by emailing them at enquiries@mccashins.co.nz or check out their Facebook page here

Beached As - Sunday Sessions
Where: The Backyard - Outdoor Bar
The Beach Road Hotel 
71 Beach Road,
Bondi, NSW

When: Sunday's from December 9, 2012 through to end of January.

The Food Mentalist sampled Rochdale Cider compliments of Rochdale Cider & One Green Bean