Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Livingroom.
Last week, Livingroom hosted a wine dinner with Wirra Wirra wines.
Wine dinners are great fun. Drinking wine is always fun but I don’t just like them because I get to drink lots of wine (though that is a compelling reason). It’s mostly because I get to try wine that I might not normally drink and get out of my comfort zone.
Livingroom has been open for a few years now and they were awarded their first Chef’s hat last year in the latest Age Good Food Guide. It’s located in a building that used to be three different shops, and inside the split level room the decor is pretty understated except for a few chandeliers – the walls contain a few artworks, the wooden tables are undressed, and large windows look out to the street. It’s owned by a father and daughter team, Alan Markham and Carolyn Liem, and their head chef is Darren Daley.
I was looking forward to my visit for an evening of food matched with Wirra Wirra wines.
Wirra Wirra, from McLaren Vale in South Australia, was established in 1894 by Robert Strangways Wigley. It’s an aboriginal name that means “amongst the gum trees”. After Strangway’s death, the winery fell into disrepair until it was taken over by Greg Trott and his cousin Roger Trott in 1969. Wirra Wirra’s chief winemaker, Paul Smith, was in attendance on the night, and he regaled us with tales of the winery and anecdotes about Robert Strangways Wigley and Gregg Trott.
The names of all the different Wirra Wirra wines have great back stories behind them – mostly based on the eccentricities of the founders – more on that later.
When Haz and I arrived, we were offered a glass of 2012 The Lost Watch Adelaide Hills riesling. I seem to be tending away from whites lately – it’s probably due to winter – and I found the riesling a bit fruity for my tastes. However Haz, the riesling queen, really enjoyed it.
And remember what I said about the naming of the wines? This riesling is called The Lost Watch because when Greg Trott was young, he lost a watch that his father had given him. Sadly he never found it, and from that day forward, he never wore a watch again. Even though he claimed he could tell the time from the sun, he was notorious for being constantly late to everything!
The riesling was matched with two canapes – a spoon of cured salmon with radish, baby beets and coriander and rabbit rilette on a little toast with quince paste. The rabbit rilette in particular was really good – savoury and crunchy and sweet in one small bite.
After canapes, we were seated in the rather dark dining room (a natural enemy of food bloggers) and were poured a glass of 2011 12th Man Adelaide Hills chardonnay. It definitely smelt like a chardonnay. I’m not really a big chardonnay fan, but I thought it was not bad and quite drinkable.
The food was a salad of slow cooked salmon with pickled young onions. The salmon was creamy and very understated in seasoning, but this worked really well in the salad because it didn’t compete with the vinegariness of the crunchy pickled onions. It was a very nice dish.
The next course was pork belly with celeriac remoulade which was matched with a 2010 The Absconder McLaren Vale Grenache. Yay red wine! I really enjoyed the grenache – all berries and spice and fullness.
The pork belly was also pretty good – though just a touch on the salty side. The pork had been slow cooked over night, making for lovely tender meat, and it was then panfried to crisp up the thin skin.
There was a break between courses while we played a wine options game – a mystery wine was poured and we were asked a series of questions. Last person still standing who answered all the questions correctly won – hey hey, guess who won?! Me me me! It was mostly a lot of luck and a tiny (I stress tiny) amount of knowledge. Btw, the wine was a Churchblock cabernet shiraz merlot.
The next course was a lamb duo – we received a square of slow cooked lamb shoulder with persillade and roast rump of lamb with beetroot chrian. This was matched with a 2009 RSW McLaren Vale Shiraz and a 2010 Woodhenge McLaren Vale Shiraz.
RSW is named for Robert Strangways Wigley. And Woodhenge, well: it’s a “bloody big fence at the winery entrance that weighs about 10 tonnes”.
The lamb duo was excellent – particularly the small square of lamb shoulder, which had been cooked so it developed a slightly crunchy crust. The slices of lamb rump were also good and were topped with a bit of earthy beetroot and horseradish sauce that complemented the meat well.
The final course was cheese – calendar selection farmhouse cloth down cheddar with lavosh, with quince paste (made in-house) and slices of apple. The wine was 2009 The Angelus McLaren Vale cabernet, a smooth medum-bodied wine to finish off the night.
The evening was fun – Haz and I got to hang out with some winey types, eat delicious food, and hear some great stories about Wirra Wirra and its founders.
For more on the evening, check out I-Hua’s recap.
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