Thursday, April 29, 2010

Announcing May

from the series HOMEGROUND 2010
Courtesy the artist & Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

So, wow, May has hit us already - and it hit us in a big way since we are all busy juggling one art opening after the other, as well as running this way and that to a silly number of dinners, engagement parties and other do's. Oh, and there’s also that thing known as “paid employment” that gets in the way of our social life. Amongst all of the madness, we are extremely excited about our next De Bortoli dinner on Sunday May 16th. And that’s because this month our guests are the amazingly talented and renowned photographic artist, Anne Zahalka and her equally talented film and television producer husband Ian Collie, together with two of their glamorous friends. For a change of scene, Anne and Ian have kindly offered to host our dinner party at their bed & breakfast in Newtown called Australia Street Guesthouse. Anne tells us she is a big lover of rabbit, so she is very enthusiastic about this month’s recipe Coniglio al Vino Rosse (Rabbit in Red Wine) which Drew and Rachel will be cooking together. In fact, we are turning this month’s dinner into a bit of a special occasion for Anne to celebrate her latest exhibition HOMEGROUND that is being held in a number of different Newtown pubs throughout May. Drew and Daniel even appear in one of Anne's photos set at Newtown pub Zanzi Bar (pictured above). On top of all that, this month's dinner is also an opportunity for Daniel to celebrate his curatorship of a major exhibition of the work of the late Australian artist Arthur McIntyre (1945-2003) at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre and Macquarie University Art Gallery. With these achievements there will certainly be toasts all round with the De Bortoli Melba Reserve. See you on the 16th!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cooking April

Master chef Rachel is on soup detail

This month's Cooking Your Calendar event took us to Sydney's Inner West where our excellent hostess was artist and curator Holly Williams. April's recipe was Leanne De Bortoli's hearty Zucchini and Potato Soup matched with Windy Peak Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.

Despite the simplicity of the recipe Rachel was nervous being head chef this month, but Holly's well-equipped kitchen made for smooth sailing. As the sun set over Sydney, Rachel took over Holly's kitchen like a tornado - chopping, mashing and blending like a woman possessed. Ever helpful (read control freak) Drew couldn't resist hovering around the sidelines offering constructive criticism and generally being a pest.

Drinking on the job as usual

By the time our guests all arrived, the soup was ready which was the go-ahead for everyone to enjoy a round of pre-dinner drinks. Our guests included Holly of course, as well as children's book author Tristan Bancks and artists Aseem Pereira and Cash Brown. Holly's cat Mr Smoochy was the night's official mascot. As we all got to know one another, Aseem asked Daniel what role he plays in the Cooking Your Calendar project, to which Daniel replied "I stand around and drink wine". Daniel was certainly in good company with Cash, who needed the hair of the dog to get over her Friday night debauchery.

Kids in the Kitchen

Before long Rachel rang the dinner bell, serving the soup with a salad of greens and baked vegetables, and hunks of crusty sourdough. Everyone agreed the soup was superb - rich, flavoursome and warming. Definitely a recipe to keep on file.

Friends from way back, Tristan, Drew and Rachel rehashed old times while the beautiful bawdy Cash Brown discussed a range of topics not suitable for publication. Holly, Aseem and Daniel caught up on artworld gossip. A contentious debate flared up about the Archibald Prize and Sam Leach's controversial win for an "appropriation" of an old Dutch masterpiece. Tristan defended the Archibald to Daniel's unmitigated horror. Drew was appalled that anybody would pay good money to see a gargantuan portrait of Glenn A Baker. Speaking of art, Cash plugged her upcoming exhibition at Robin Gibson Gallery; if last year's Cash Brown art controversy is anything to go by, it should be a great show. We also chatted about the upcoming Sydney Writers Festival where Tristan will be one of the guest speakers.

Cash Brown - the Queen of Controversy

Ten or so bottles of wine later, Holly suggested we play a boozy game of Balderdash, where players bluff each other with bogus definitions of various words or things. Rachel blitzed the game but suspected that Holly was scoring under the influence. After we gorged ourselves on a cheese platter, we made our way back to Kings Cross - not that we remember much of the ride home.

Mr Smoochy - designated driver

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

At Home with the De Bortoli's

Drew and Daniel meet Leanne and Steve

Against the backdrop of the Easter long weekend, Daniel and Drew hit the road for a Cooking Your Calendar excursion to the De Bortoli winery and family home in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. After spending some time at the Cellar Door and cheese tasting station, we made our way to meet Leanne De Bortoli and husband Steve Webber at their home on the grounds. We instantly hit it off, knocking back white wine on their gorgeous back deck, which overlooks Leanne’s organic veggie patch. Steve (in hoon-style Grand Prix mode) later took us on a hair-raising ride around the vineyard on his Moke. Drew fed their three big pigs a bucket of acorns while Leanne explained how the oinkers had a date with a smoke house and a salami knife come June. By sunset we met Leanne’s brother Kevin and wife Jennifer (who penned two of the calendar’s recipes) along with a bunch of their friends from the region. All up it was a great night of food, music, conversation and of course wine. Leanne and Steve’s hospitality was awesome!

We’ll let the pictures do the talking...

The vineyard after vintage

Daniel wondering where the bottles are

Drew and the Moke

Pigs before

Pigs after

Dining with the De Bortoli's

Jennifer and Leanne De Bortoli with the calendar

Steve shows us around the next day... Is that contemporary sculpture or what?

Barrels of love