Friday, May 14, 2010

i love you guys

I was feeling melancholy the last day of our culinary journey together in South Australia. This group of 13 that I'd assembled were so simpatico that I felt moved, almost transformed, by our time together. Over the years, I’ve taught many weeklong classes, but there was something special, almost magical, about this group. You never have control over the dynamics of a group, it just doesn’t work like that. And as much as I wanted to take credit, this week fell into place like a soft leather glove on the perfect-sized hand.

Everyone was really rested that last morning as we met over breakfast. What a night off and a good night’s sleep with lofty down pillows and mold-to-your-body heavenly beds can do! But wake up! Spinifix Winery brought their tasting to us!

As we tasted I could see nostalgia creeping in. Photos were snapping as everyone tried to capture the last moments in digital frames. Kind of like the last day of high school or a family reunion when reality sets in that soon we’d be going our own ways.

We left The Louise and headed towards my dear friend, Maggie Beer's Farm Shop in Nuriootpa, for a picnic lunch. I’ve known Maggie for years when she used to come to the classes I taught at Yalumba. I’ve always described her as the Alice Waters of Australia (without the hat and the Edible Schoolyard.) But those were the old days! Now Maggie is a true Australian icon without a minute to spare. She's constantly on the road these days so she was only there in spirit. I’m happy for her success but sad I missed her bubbly personality and spirited laugh this trip.

But hold on, we're not done yet. I've got another friend just down the road that I promised I'd visit. We need to make one more stop on our culinary journey, - Rockford Vineyards, owned by my old friend, Rocky O’ Callaghan.
We hit it just right, they were in the middle of harvest. There was lots of activity in the rustic courtyard - trucks unloading freshly picked Shiraz grapes, pumping over and crushing the grapes in his famous basket press. We went into the tasting room for a VIP tasting of at least 10 wines.
Rockford is legendary for their sparkling black Shiraz, one of my personal favorite, and a basket-pressed Shiraz that’s big and gutsy like ink! These were amongst the group.

By now, some of the group was suffering palate fatigue. Could I blame them? And just as we all thought we were finished tasting, we got invited to sample the freshly pressed juice, bright purple-colored and dense, directly from the basket press. Delicious, but now we all needed a nap so we'd be rested for tonight's farewell dinner.

Dressed to kill and ready to die of consumption, we met at Appellation, the signature restaurant associated with our hotel, The Louis, for our last night together around the table. Course after course was cooked by my chef friend, Mark McNamara, who made us an unforgettable dinner for us. I'm still dreaming of the caramelized kombocha squash with Moroccan spices. (Oh that's right, Mark, you promised me that recipe!)

As I handed out the diplomas, I thanked everyone for trusting me enough to travel half way around the world to spend a week in a place I love beyond my wildest dreams. As we said our goodbyes, there were stars in everyone's eyes and joy in their hearts. I’d helped to form those stars and to make that joy a reality. I had a small tear as I gave everyone a hug and a kiss that came directly from my heart.

Until next time, g'day mate!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Sounds like a fantastic adventure! Australia is on my bucket list! Thank you for sharing.