PIZZINI WINESNatalie’s Pizzini’s family’s business, Pizzini Wines, is renowned as a one of the best cellar doors in the region, and a pioneering producer of Italian wine varieties. Natalie started working in the family business in her early twenties, and now manages events and marketing for the Pizzini brand.  I recently spoke with Natalie about life on the winery, the business, the industry and what makes the Valley so special…

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I travelled to Europe earlier this year. Most of our time was spent in Italy, headed-up with a week in Spain and Southern France, and capped-off with a jaunt in Malta. For today’s purposes, just know that it was July and, it was hot. Really hot. The mercury rose as we trailed down towards the sun-drenched beaches of Calabria collaged with bronze Europeans, and drove around the dry, sun-blasted terrain of Sicily. It was that type of heat that engulfs you, pummels your head, and makes human contact repulsive. I loved it…

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With Melbourne’s long-term love of beer, and the more recent explosion in Melbourne’s penchant for craft beers, it is no surprise that Good Beer Week is back this year and bigger than ever. The appreciation of beer’s complexity and versatility is becoming more main-stream, in a way that has previously been reserved for wine. This year, some of our most-loved eateries are on board with GBW, offering dynamic menus, from Spanish to Vietnamese flavours, skilfully paired with craft brews that will attract devout foodies and hop-heads alike…

IMG_1650 Melbourne is in the midst of two consecutive long weekends – the first one for Easter, and the following one for Anzac day.  This makes it a perfect opportunity to share this decadent tart, which could just as easily be whipped out for a leisurely brunch with a side of espresso and the Sunday quiz, as it could make an elegant snack for afternoon tea, with Prosecco and a simple mixed-leaf salad…

UntitledI don’t often frequent Lygon Street, Carlton’s ‘little Italy’ precinct these days. There are certainly exceptions*, and there is something endearing, and almost iconic, about the history wrapped up in it, but, it just hasn’t been my ‘go-to’ place since my underage-nightclubbing days. However, my attention was captured by the Latin-American that has samba-ed its way into the hub of relatively consistent Italian eateries…

vdayValentine’s Day – whether you’ve been counting down by circling love-hearts around the days on your calendar, consider it a Hallmark cash-grab, deem it discriminatory to the single folk, or simply see it as a good excuse to holler at your loved ones, there are some very decent events on offer to mark the occasion.  Besides, it’s Friday and that’s reason enough to celebrate.  Below is an assortment of my prime picks for ways to spend the 14th of February 2014.

IMG_1424 (2)This dish is a souvenir from my trip to Phu Quoc, Vietnam a couple of years ago.  I towed it more excitedly than any tourist with a stash of tailor made suits or a conical non la hat.  The food in Vietnam is really special.  I’ve eaten Vietnamese in Melbourne literally hundreds of times – lazy family lunches at our Victoria Street regular, wrestling over the last crunchy cigar-like spring roll to wrap in cups of crisp lettuce with strands of coriander and mint, mid-week pow-wow lunches gossiping over steaming broth and slurping slippery noodles, and boozy BYO birthdays staring inebriated eyes into plates of translucent dumplings. But Vietnamese food, in Vietnam, is very different.

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