I long for BC (before covid) and dream about AC (after covid) while drifting in-between. . . interstitial time. . . each day a blur, it seems like we have been living with social restrictions for much longer. . . I think it’s only a week since restaurants and cafes closed. . . no wonder prisoners count the days with marks on the wall. . .
Like my neighbours, I’ve been walking in circles around the park, while discretely keeping 1.5 metres away from all humans and their dogs. . . one welcome side effect of COVID19 is likely to be slimmer waistlines.
The local liquor barns have been limiting alcohol purchases to 3 bottles per day. . . I’ve been raiding my cellar instead.
A half bottle, the liquid soft and golden. Stone and peach and white pepper on the nose, butter milk. Expressive, but quieter than I had expected. Bronzed, nutty and slightly sweet to open, …
Ever rewarding and ever wonderful Domaine De L’Arlot. . . Deep and freshly scented; to open – something pure, lush and beautiful. At first stem and curry leaf, later earth and roots and eventually black cardamon. Correctly weighted and warm. Fine but firm tannins – an earthy and expansive tail.
I read the papers, even the detested Murdoch ones, digesting the stories and numbers and images about SARS-Cov2. . . will it continue to spread (yes); can it be controlled with social distancing (yes); can Italy and Spain get it under control (the last 2 days show a drop in new cases, so – yes – hopefully); has our warm Australian summer protected us so far (perhaps, but the days are growing cooler). . .
I’ve more time, especially this week, as the ramp up of restrictions has taken effect. I’ve been finding solace in cooking and simple pleasures – like this pot of honey harvested from a patient’s backyard hive. It’s perhaps one of the sweetest and most delicious honeys I’ve tried. Runnier and darker than usual, I’ve been using it for special things – like my pot of zaalouk. . .
Shopping in the time of Covid 19. . . it’s almost impossible to buy meat, chicken, eggs, flour and rice from the supermarket. . . lets not even mention toilet paper and tissues or hand sanitiser. . . gone too from the aisles of Bunnings are all the seeds for every vegetable. . .
No such issues (at the moment) with eggplant.
For this version of deservedly loved zaalouk – take 2 large aubergines (peel and roughly dice); 500g of tomatoes (I used undersized Roma) – diced, 3 cloves of garlic – crushed; a large handful of coriander – chopped; 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about half a large lemon’s worth); 2 teaspoons of honey; 1.5 teaspoons of smoky paprika; 1 teaspoon of ground cumin (also disappearing from supermarkets shelves); 1 teaspoon of ground Aleppo pepper, or a smaller amount of cayenne; a large pinch of salt flakes.
Add a very generous glug (say 50-60mls) of olive …
A medium crimson with a pure and expressive nose, it’s a little too heavy and round for more praise. It’s been a few years since the last bottle and I had hoped this would come around, softening and becoming more like the ethereal 2006. The nose is the prettiest feature, mashed berries, warm spice, freshly turned earth. Quite meaty and bloody on the first sip, it feels bigger than 13% with heat and warmth to finish.
Context. The cases of SARS-Cov2 continue to increase, over 1200 in Australia today, which pales compared to China, Italy and the USA; but we are on the same line (the doubling every 3 days line) and so presumably we are one or two weeks behind even more misery and morbidity.
A quote from Elif Shafak’s 10 minutes and 38 seconds in this strange world. Istanbul was a liquid city, …
An old, but contextually apt photo. I opened the bottle of Beaujolais to settle my nerves after a dryish fortnight during which we were hosting an French exchange student and worrying and so far just reading about SARS-COV2. We’ve never before bought and gone through so much cheese, salami and white bread. . . The lad will not look at a raw vegetable. . .
The wine, a thing of great beauty, was like a time machine, transporting me back to Paris and our last meal there. . . a terrific nose – playful and bright, clean and pure; berries and easier times. Slippery in the mouth, a simple pleasure and much needed distraction.
Last bottle. . . Butterscotch and cream, smouldering with a hint of reduction. Very similar to before, a sweet core, pollen like and crunchy. There’s some toffee apple sweetness/bitterness. Very good, full and rich.
Unrelated Image: famous but relatively dry Russell Falls @ Mt Field National Park. Unrelated quote, from my favourite novel of year so far – Ben Lerner’s Topeka School. A cry for help directed to the grownups in the audience, but there are no grownups. That’s what you must grow up to know fully. Your parents were just two more bodies experiencing landscape and weather trying to make sense by vibrating columns of air, re-describing contingency as necessity. . .
A new and small producer, this bottle 455 from a batch of 808. While waiting for their vines the grapes are single site but non estate.
The back label promises much – handpicked, 30% whole bunches, older oak, minimal sulphur, no fining, no filtration and I think after two days of pontificating this does deliver. I tried and admired a glass of the single clone (clone 777) a month ago with a cut of Cape Grim beef. It was notable and interesting even to my distracted palate and I made a mental promise to locate a few bottles. . .
A beautiful nose – especially the opening note, it’s all red fruit and a hint of cream. Very pure and evocative. Sticks and stones come with the second sniff, though only if you look. Very pert and juicy, a lively attack. Well weighted, slightly brittle and crunchy, but it …
Vombatus ursinus at Ronny Creek, Cradle mountain. A very cute and cuddly critter, though judging by its need to stop and scratch while trying to eat the grass, this wombat like many others has a dose of scabies. . . Many wonderful and trivial wombat facts – the backward facing pouch (to avoid dirt while burrowing), the easy to spot cuboid stackable poo, the supposed ability to run at 40km/h for short bursts and the curious collective noun – a wisdom of wombats.
One more of the unexpected sights was the number of tall and wonderful sequoia that I got to tap, touch and hug. . . Relatively speaking they are still babies at around 150 years of age and no more than half their potential height.
She’s like a flea trying to hug it’s dog. Richard Powers -The Overstory.
Image – a sempavirans (always flourishing), a coast redwood, but also seen were the gangly limbed giganteum – giant sequoia
A third and likely final look at this wonderful wine (1, 2). Middle aged but still smouldering, rubbed sticks and perfume, powder and spice much more than fruit or flowers. Fleshy and plump, globular in the mouth, but still a corset of acid and very soft velvet tannins.
When I first saw the tree, in Port Arthur of all places, I assumed it was another horse chestnut with green conkers, but there were no spikes, instead something smooth and satisfyingly weighted. I carried it around for a few days, speculating on what it might be before finally deducing that it was a walnut. I peeled and scraped away the flesh (which is extremely bitter and not enjoyable) to reveal a very pale quite hard, but clearly immature walnut.
A very fine English oak – Quercus robur in a field of purple. This was the most photogenic of the scores of old and large oaks I saw in Tasmania, though the most impressive was the near 200 year old Quercus suber (cork tree) in the botanic gardens of Hobart, with it’s gnarled arms and crinkly coat of sweet smelling cork.
Location – Bridestowe estate is a short drive north of Launceston, past some well known Tamar Valley vineyards.
Early morning is the best time to take your Cradle mountain pictures, with a gentle sun behind your back. . . sadly most tourists can only get to Dove lake and this vista sometime after nine. . . that’s the trade off and price of protecting pristine isolation. To the left the smaller pyramid of dolerite is little horn, then the dip or the cradle complete with the imagined baby, before steep Weindorfers tower and Smithies peak.
Still sheltered but now on the windward sound of the mountain is famous Wineglass Bay. I had planned to scramble Mt Amos to get a more elevated shot, but the rain and the wind and the warnings – written and spoken kept me to the middle. . .
Lots of wines by the glass, the seven sips below being the most notable of the trip.
2019 Meadowbank Riesling – aromatic, obviously, blue flowers, lavender and talc, a hint of sweetness, good sting and texture. Blood orange and pith. Excellent.
2017 Stefano Lubiana Primavera Chardonnay – Chablis like, if there is such a thing as an Aussie chardonnay with a Chablis profile. . . citrus and slate on the nose, cream and texture in the mouth, but restraint, a mineral spine. Worthy. Less impressive was the Primavera PN from the same vintage – which was over large and too foxy and clumsy for my liking.
2018 Anim Field Blend – a mishmash of white and red grapes, Pinot noir and blanc, chardonnay, Tempranillo, cabernet, merlot and more. It’s full and quite appealing. Plush and berry laden, good zip and spice. Glug.
2016 Morilla Muse Chardonnay. Peach skins and butter scotch, great …
Small and secluded Honeymoon bay on the leeward side of low but steep mountains. Shrouded in mist and low cloud are two of five hazards – Mount Mayson and Amos. It’s here in beautiful Freychinet I climbed the most steps, ate the freshest oysters and dreamt most deeply.