Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shiraz heaven - Fox Creek McLaren Vale Reserve Shiraz 2004

I'm one of those lucky people who has quite a few wine lovers around her, who, seeing how miserable she looks without a drink, hand her a carefully-chosen bottle now and then.

This Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz is one such bottle. The thing is, I'm not usually a fan of Aussie Shiraz. Too much of the time it's got too much vanilla, it's jammy and stewed in an overripe way, and almost too luscious, so full-bodied it's just like thick, raisiny lead on your tongue. Or it goes the other extreme of being way too fickle, spicy and peppery.

I don't know what the Fox Creek was like younger, but after 8 years, this 2004 is beautiful. (Ok, come on Aussies, let's say it together: BEE-YOU-DE-FOOL!). It's got everything on the Shiraz spectrum, and it comes through in layers. On the nose it's pretty typical - dark red fruits, chocolate. On the palate, you get a bit of vanilla, but it's quickly offset by some green herbs - rosemary, perhaps - and a fruity freshness, like fresh cranberry juice. That freshness and seemingly lighter body is what I love most about this (but it manages to be 14.5%, I guess the fresh fruit is what does it). There's a teeny bit of black pepper too, and yes, some raisins but not too much, and lots of dark chocolate, especially if you're having meat with it. And such a long, velvety finish. Mmm...

If only all Aussie Shirazes were as sophisticated as this, then they wouldn't have such a dodgy reputation!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Interview: Fuchsia Dunlop at Hong Kong Literary Festival

Fuchsia Dunlop
I was fortunate enough to get a last-minute press pass to one of the talks that Fuchsia Dunlop was giving at this year's Hong Kong International Literary Festival.

Entitled Hot and Sour, it was a Q&A session about Fuchsia's (mostly food) experiences in China, mostly related to her memoir, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper (which, by the way, has been translated into Traditional Chinese, and perhaps soon into simplified for the Mainland Chinese market, a prospect that Fuchsia looked forward to with "trepidation").

Fuchsia Dunlop at "Hot and Sour", moderated by Chengdu native, Jennifer Zhu-Scott
After a bit of a wait (that's what you get for being last-minute) I caught Fuchsia for a zippy 10-minute interview in the all-emerald Centurion lounge of the Kee Club, and I shivered all the way through, because the aircon was worthy of a mortuary, and I was so nervous and thrilled to be meeting the only non-Chinese author I trust to talk about Chinese food. I have an enormous amount of respect for Fuchsia's efforts in understanding China, its culture and its food. If I could achieve a fraction of what she's done in "communicating" China to the West, I'd be very proud of myself!

Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed recording it, and many thanks, Fuchsia, HK Lit Fest and CatchOn.