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By Alister Purbrick & Karin Derkley


WINE By Alister Purbrick Miles from Nowhere ‘Best Blocks’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 94/100 RRP $26.60 Franklin Tate is synonymous with wines from Margaret River. He has sourced this cabernet from low yielding blocks and it shows typical regional aromas of ripe berries and a distinct dry herbal tone. A rich full bodied wine with nicely rounded tannins, it offers concentrated fruit flavours of blackberry and beautifully integrated oak finishing with hints of sage and aniseed. Good cellaring for 6+ years and an ideal pairing with a rack of lamb and all the trimmings. Stockists: Auburn Wine Cellars, Prince Wine Store Essendon Yealands Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015 96/100 RRP $23.70 Peter Yealands is a pioneer of sustainable winemaking in New Zealand and boasts the carboNZero accreditation for his impressive property in the Awatere Valley. The Seaview Vineyard produces a distinctive sauvignon blanc and this attractive wine has been awarded trophies and gold medals in international competitions. The pure flavours of citrus and guava are supported by herbal notes resulting in an elegantly textured wine – definitely a cut above most Marlborough wines of this variety. Stockists: Acland Cellars St Kilda, Wine Star Keilor Park, Nillumbik Cellars Diamond Creek Vallate Prosecco NV 92/100 RRP $21.60 Prosecco is enjoying a huge rise in popularity in Australia and Vallate uses the regional glera grape variety for this sparkling wine which is sourced from its family owned vineyards in Treviso, only 40 kilometres from Venice. Pale straw in colour, with scents of apple, lemon and grapefruit, it is complemented by subtle floral tones and balanced acidity while maintaining a fine, persistent bead. Excellent as an aperitif or make your own version of the famous Venetian Bellini cocktail . . . a mixture of Prosecco and peach purée or nectar. Stockists: Cloudwine Cellars South Melbourne, Como Wine and Spirits South Yarra Alister Purbrick, CEO of Tahbilk Winery Food Lee Ho Fook 11–15 Duckboard Place It being the Asian century and all, I thought it was time to turn my mind to where you could take a Chinese client or colleague for lunch. Lee Ho Fook is, I presume, named after the enigmatic SoHo restaurant of the same name immortalised in Warren Zevon’s 1972 song Werewolves of London. And, in keeping with modern dining trends, it is hidden down the back of a lane off Flinders Lane where Lon Chaney would not look out of place. But inside it’s all hip warehouse conversion. The menu also reflects a modern sensibility, with the kitchen team “using traditional cultural and culinary inspirations and modern techniques to deliver [a] unique brand of new style Chinese cuisine”. Despite the tantalising offer of spring onion Chinizza (think spring onion cake and mozzarella), my dining companion and I eschewed the lunch prix fixe ($38 for appetizer, entrée and main with rice) to test the a la carte options. To start, we had Chongqing style chicken crackling and warm scallops with silken tofu and soy butter. Both were fabulous dishes, with great contrast in tastes (yin and yang, you could say). The crackling was deep fried goodness with zing being provided by the accompanying fried chilli and spring onion. The scallops were served on the shell, with alternating cubes of silky smooth scallop and tofu, wonderfully enhanced by the soy butter. This was followed by finely sliced pork belly served with pickled fennel, chilli oil and hot mustard. Think cold/hot and smooth/crunchy and you’ll get an idea of how the dish comes together. For mains, we had stir fried jade vegetables (snowpeas, sugar snaps and broccoli) and Sichuan style “bang bang” chicken. The only miss from my perspective was the latter, which lacked the promised bang. While we were quickly becoming pork bellies ourselves, in the spirit of a thorough review, we pushed on to share a jasmine tea infused custard with burnt caramel – a tea flavoured crème caramel, which exemplified the marriage between Asian flavours and modern techniques. The food was accompanied by jasmine rice, and washed down with a couple of glasses each of Kurt Angerer Roter Veltliner (a dry white from Austria) for an overall bill of $154. There is a lot to like about Lee Ho Fook and you don’t need a Chinese client or colleague for an excuse. 17/20 How we rate it 18 to 20: Take your best client 15 to 17: A safe bet for clients 12 to 14: Best with colleagues <12: Try somewhere else Coffee SACRED ALLEY ESPRESSO BAR 12 Equitable Place Sacred Alley Espresso Bar does serve lattes and flat whites, but one feels a bit gauche asking for milk with one’s coffee at a cafe that takes its single origin and cold drips so seriously. The coffee is Dukes, roasted in Melbourne from ethically sourced beans and prepared according to a strict recipe that stipulates a 94C brew temperature for 26 seconds for every 19 gram coffee dose. This latte lover was won over by the smoothness of the Juan Carlos Organic Espresso, grown in the Cajamarca region of Peru “under the shade of native fruit trees” by the eponymous Juan and his family. The espresso, which came with a glass of sparkling water, was thick and creamy and packed a punch. Down the Collins Street end of buzzy Equitable Place, the cafe comes across as a slightly quirky coffee laboratory. On the afternoon I visited, a few earnest meetings were being conducted on the inside tables, leaving a nice big communal table free for browsing through newspapers, and the recycled wooden tables in the lane outside under the heaters viable even on a damp chilly winter day. KD

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