2015: The Year That Was

It’s December already? Wasn’t it the start of this year just a teensy while back? I feel like a goldfish, purely because I’m trying to remember what all I got up to in the past year, and I just am unable to. It all flew by in a whiz. Pffffft.

I do know where some of my last few months went; being so caught up with work and home that the blog was ignored. But see how loyal I am to our monthly #BlogAlong, that Upasna, Pooja and I host every first Sunday of the month. It’s pretty much the one thing that I make sure I post to the blog lately. So much to share with you and so little I actually am. I am not going to jump the gun and start spouting my New Years resolutions, not just yet. However what I do want to share is my favourite memories of the year that was 2015.

This post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up, hosted by Pooja from A Bit of This and a Lot of That, Upasna from Life On My Plate, and yours truly. The theme this month is Flashback 2015

Lately, Arjun Singh and I are saving all our moolah and energy for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef for New Years Eve, so most of the weekends go by binge-watching The Walking Dead. So when I sat down to write this post and recapped some fun times, all I could picture were zombies running after me. Ugh. Not good. So flash-backed a bit more, and realised it wasn’t all zombies and lazy time. 2015 was special in so so many ways, and the following are just a few of my favourite blog posts of the last one year.

The Hobo Road Trip: 5 friends, one car, 6000 kms, and some epic memories

We drove all the way from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and back, meandering here and there, and created memories to last a lifetime. Along the way, we discovered this trippy little town Nimbin, the story of which I shared with you all a while back. What a trip. haha.

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Hooligans in HoboLand

Starting my #MarketsofMelbourne series for the blog

I love markets, and Melbourne has a gazillion of these. Ranging from farmers markets, to art and craft, to food festivals, its a crazy smorgasbord here. Just another reason for me to get up and go market-walking every other weekend, but hey it’s all for a good cause, innit. (Albeit I am behind on the posts, but too many markets, one little me: Hold on for 2016, it’s going to be market heaven here :) )

And did I mention that my blog post on the Esplanade Market, right here in St Kilda, got covered in Elle China. Woot Woot!

Elle Feature
Elle Feature: Esplanade Market, St Kild

Spectacular New Zealand

Oh New Zealand, what can I say about you that others haven’t raved about already. Until I figure out other unique ways to describe the Kiwi country experience, you all can read my post on the adorable little seal pups I visited off the coast of Kaikoura in South Island here.

Cuteness Maximus
Cuteness Maximus

The Intoxicating Barossa Valley

A vacation which consisted of wine-tasting, lazy strolls in wine-yards, and lots of me and him time. Do I need to list out any other reason at all why this made it in here? :) Yes, there is so much more to do in Barossa other than wines, and which you should definitely experience them when you are there. But the wines, oh the wines, I swear it’s like it’s literally in the air up there.

Wine Wine and More Wine
Wine Wine and More Wine

When My Recipe Got Featured On Buzzfeed

What a win! And it was a Himachali recipe of mine, to boot. It’s not like I am super creative or a hyper-perfectionist or pull out all stops with the food styling and my food photography with the blog. All I want to get right is the detail and the colors. And then one day I wake up to tons of traffic on the blog, directed from Buzzfeed, and you just smile to yourself, knowing yes, that’s a Win for today!

This got Buzzed
This got Buzzed

The #BlogAlong

2015 is also special because this is the year I started my blog link up party with two absolutely delightful blogger gal-pals and we LOVE it. Every month, we get alarm-clocked by the enthu-cutlet (you know we heart you Pooja), and then we put on our blogger hats and come up with our topics for that month. It’s pretty much an endless discussion on food, and travel, and then some more food. The way to our hearts is ALSO through our gluttonous stomachs. And eyes.

We hope you are enjoying the #BlogAlong as much as we are. This is as much your link up party as it is ours, and we want you to tell us if you have any exciting ideas for us to #BlogAlong about in 2016.

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Phew. I did manage to get up to a lot this year. No wonder I am so tired. Haha. The last month of this year and I are going to continue to make some wonderful memories, and ring in 2016 with its wonderful delights. Am glad I had a chance to recap some of my favorite blogging memories with you all, and I cannot wait to read a round up of yours.

 

This post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up, hosted by Pooja from A Bit of This and a Lot of That, Upasna from Life On My Plate, and yours truly.

The theme this month is Flashback 2015, and you’re all invited to the party!

BlogAlong

It’s YOUR turn now. Your best memories, lessons & learnings, musings & deliberations; #BlogAlong with us & tell us what stood out for you this past year!

To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  • Write and publish a new post on the monthly topic, or share an old post you might have written around the theme. All posts are welcome, as long as they are relevant to the current topic!
  • Add the #BlogAlong badge to your post (grab the badge codes from the sidebar on each of our blogs) & link back to at least one of the hosts. This helps to promote everyone’s hard work.
  • Follow your hosts!
  • Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below, and adding your post to the blogroll.
  • Comment on each other’s posts and spread the love.
  • Promote your own and fellow bloggers’ posts on Social Media using the hashtag #BlogAlong.

The link-up will remain open from the first Sunday of the month, until the end of the month…!

 

Wines of Barossa: Visit to the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre

Wine wine everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

That’s what Arjun Singh must have felt when we were in the Barossa because guess who was the designated driver? Hehe…But it was either him or me and ummm, I don’t drive that well, so poor him. So he kept up the conscientious resolve…. Until we reached the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre. And I signed us up both for the Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting, which included a tour of ….the vineyards (duh!), and a complimentary tasting of 7 of their premium blends. He was not going to give up on THAT.

Look how happy he is
Look how happy he is

Jacobs Creek is one of the biggest wine makers from Australia, and their wines are grown and made all over the South; Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra. However, it is at Barossa that their visitor centre is located and where you meet the elves in Jacob ‘Claus’ Creek’s wine workshop. Haha, I wish there were elves. Maybe there are. But we’ll never know ;)

The centre offers a host of tours and tasting experiences to cater to all types of visitors: the foodie, the history-buff, the environmentalist, the wine-lover. The photographer? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong.  The premises are beautiful, the setting is elegant and scenic.

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You are treated to views of the grape plantation spread over the rolling hills. It’s quite a sight. However visitors aren’t really allowed to visit the plantation in Barossa. You are only allowed access to the visitor centre, and a dedicated green patch where you can relax on picnic style benches, and leisurely take in the views, while lying back on super comfy bean bag style mattresses. There is also a special area that is exclusive to the vineyard tour groups which is cordoned off from the rest of the visitors. This has a sample of each type of the 14 grapes that Jacobs Creek growers cultivate.

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The Vineyard Tour and Tasting tour starts off with a bit of history, a tour of the visitor centre which takes you via an informative display. The gallery has an interesting display of the wine bottles, the corking and bottling techniques over the years. You then move onto the vineyard, or in this case the exclusive tour-special vineyard, with the sample crops.

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Once there, you are then allowed to roam around, check out each type of grape and even taste some. That was my favourite part. Most of the whites had dried up but the reds were plump and ready for picking. They were like super sweet raisins, the kind you want in christmas cake, except that they were fresh, and ripe for picking. And I picked a lot. Yay!

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Look at how ripe and juicy the Grenache is

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It was here that I discovered a new grape called the Grenache. The time we visited the valley, it was end of harvesting season already, so most of the crops were bare, but there was a particular grape that was still on the vines, and looked ripe and ready. This was the Grenache, a red grape that ripens late and typically has a high tolerance for heat and drought. True that, because given the hot hot days we encountered and the heat the area is prone to during end of harvesting season, the Grenache was doing spectacularly well. Typically used in blends (mixing with other grapes), you will most likely not find a grenache wine on it’s own, as they have high oxidation levels, which leads to a stronger tanin flavour on the palate as the wine ages. The most favoured blend for this grape is a GSM: Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.

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Happily posing away with the Merlot, thinking it was the Grenache.. oops

I am not a big fan of red wines, however there are certain reds that I do like, a good Shiraz makes my day, a Merlot not so much. However, the idea of a GSM sounded very enticing (I had already tried the dried grape, I was sure the wine would be delicioussimo too :D) And it totally was. We tried the St Hugos GSM as part of our tasting, and WIN for the red wine corner. (Don’t worry, white, you are still my favourite)

The wine tasting was quite a lovely experience. As I mentioned before, you get to try 7 of their best wines, and they are superbly generous. Arjun Singh tried his reds, and I the whites, and ofcourse the GSM. By the end of it, we were in a state of delicious bliss, and the bean bag hammocks were calling out to us. So we put up our feet, gazed out at the fine Jacobs Creek plantations, smiled indulgently at everyone around us, gazed adoringly at each other, and even snoozed a teensy bit. (Hey, it’s us, we LOVE to sleep).

Things You Must Know About The Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre:

The Good:

  1. The Vineyard Tour and Tasting allows you access to the exclusive sample crops of the Jacobs Creek wineyards, where you get ample time to explore, taste, touch, and click
  2. A generous sampling of some of their best wines. 7, to be precise, for AUD 15 is a super good deal
  3. There are also free samplings of the chosen wine of the month, which happen every 2-3 hours
  4. The premises are gorgeous. The outdoorsy deck, the plantation views, everyone is allowed to visit and relax.
  5. An amazing variety of tours offered for the wine lover

The Bad:

  1. I felt it the setup was a bit commercial, especially the special plantation area open only to people who sign up for tours. Without that you aren’t allowed access to the crops at all. The only place you were allowed free access too was the bar and the restaurant and the picnic area.
  2. Too much paranoia. We had to sanitise our shoes before entering the sample crop area, which was essentially a gated and boxed crop patch. Maybe my displeasure stemmed from the fact that we had visited many other wine growers and makers who were far less paranoid about people checking out their crops, or bringing in the dreaded phylloxera pest.

The Ugly:

Nothing at all, I just wanted to use the headings in the post :)

Fun Fact:

The family behind the Jacobs Creek wines are actually the Grampp family. Jacob was the land owner, from whom the Grampps bought land for commercial cultivation, and the creek running beside his house was named after him. The bottles carry the Gramps family signature, of Johann Grampp.

All views expressed are mine. I had a yummazing time at the visitor centre, however did not get a detailed look at the brand and its wines. But that is purely because I chose the tour but wasn’t too well informed about it. Make sure you pick the tour that appeals most to you, and what you want to do at the centre. Eat, drink, be merry, learn, bike around, and even cook. It’s all yours for the picking :)

If you want to know more about Jacobs Creek, you can visit their website here 

Also, this is an extensive and uber-gorgeous post by Katie from What Katie Ate, where she was a guest of Jacobs Creek (sigh). Read on here to marvel at her photography and learn tonnes more about the behind-the-scenes plus the magic behind Jacobs Creek.

I am linking this post to #TheWeeklyPostcard link up that happens in some super fun blogs hosted by Lyn and her pals. Head on there to check out her fun blog.

A Hole In My Shoe

Spring Sangria

Spring is passing us by super quick and a hot HOT summer is around the corner.  The good thing about these seasons is that it’s the time to Disco.. NOT.. but to guzzle cold smoothies, chilled coffee shakes, and best of all, sparkling sangrias. Plus, I am one of those weirdos on the planet who is NOT a fan of red wine as is, but give me a glass of red wine sangria and I guzzle it by the gallon. I kid you not.

I love the color, the fizz, the fruit. I wanted a refreshing glass of sangria filled to the brim with berries, no apples or pears or crunch, and topped off with sparkling soda and ice. And I went and made me some.

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Norms dictate I give out a recipe, and some ingredients with measurements and servings yada yada yada. But I say, it’s a sangria; don’t think too much. Just drink up.

A little bit of everything sweet, and a lot of wine makes a happy girl. And I am sure you agree. I am linking this post to the #bitofthisandlotofthat weekly challenge being hosted by my dear friend Pooja on her blog 

6 Awesome Innovations at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show 2014

So this weekend I went-a-visiting to the Melbourne Good Food and Wine show.

I was looking forward to the endless arrays of food and wine, and more food and wine, and then some more food and wine.  And the show did not disappoint. I sampled an unbelievable variety of cheese, tasted countless chips and crackers in sweet and savoury dips, and made some new food discoveries (Salted Caramel, where HAVE you been my whole life). The exhibition was amazing, in terms of products, produce, cooking and baking equipment, and the wine, aah, the wine. I made my way to the Wine section, glass in hand, and best Oliver Twist impersonation on.

May I please?
May I please?

Hahahah, I needn’t have worried. The exhibitors were more than happy to share their wine. And  after one too many just-a-little-bit-more samples, and  purchasing my super yummy bottle of Moscato, I was a happy girl,  literally and spiritedly.

My Super Yummy Bottle of Moscato
My Super Yummy Bottle of Moscato

Apart from the traditional fresh produce, snacks, and wine, there were some really innovative designs and products on display. Here’s a look at the the six totally awesome food and wine ideas that caught my eye at the Good Food and Wine Show 2014:
Continue reading “6 Awesome Innovations at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show 2014”