Melbourne Cup, pre-race breakfast Champagne

Melbourne Cup Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs Vertus Champagne Simple Palates Seriously

It’s the first Tuesday of November in Melbourne, the date that stops a nation. The Melbourne Cup. Race 7, 3pm. This year’s running was complicated by the winds taking the unfastened hats on a whirlwind ride along the track. It’s later in the day now, and the golden rule applies – avoid public transport around Flemington. The droves and flocks will be returning home in various states of ‘classiness’. Of course, I heeded the best advice combination of having a designated driver, staying refreshed with plenty of water, and not drinking on an empty stomach!

Vueve Fourny Blanc de Blancs NV, Vertus
This is a lovely champagne from Vertus, made from Chardonnay vine which are >40 years old. Each vintage, the first press juice is aged on lees for 7 months in vats (75%) and oak casks (25%). Each blend is from 3 consecutive vintages with 20% of reserve wine. Aged for a further 2.5 years in bottle, and dosage weighs in at 6g/L. Pale gold colour, fine beads with aromas of freshly cut citrus fruit, summer lemons and white florals. Extremely fine mousse texture, rich honey flavours with lemon citrus and mandarin sorbet. Long persistent finish.

A bittersweet day, while I backed a winner for the 5th straight year, the outright favourite and Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti collapsed and died after the race.

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Geneva in 24 hours, shot right out of a jet

I was fortunate to be in Geneva for a weekend in the early portion of summer. The weather forecast wasn’t great, overcast and heavy rain. But, the sun stayed out, not too much cloud hung around, and the rains kept to a bare minimal. Perfect weather to work the pavements and wander around the city on foot. I thought I’d use this post as a perfect avenue for me to recollect my enjoyable holiday and share a couple of interesting spots and sights. These certainly aren’t the popular tourist attractions, although there might be an obligatory Jet d’Eau picture. I find it much more satisfying wandering amongst the locals, shopping at the small markets for fresh produce, and taking in atmosphere of the residential zones. However, if you don’t have the luxury of time, here are my recommendations for a couple of 10-30min stopovers around the city which you could easily cover in a day.

Parc de la Grange Maison Favre Simple Palates Seriously
I like to start my day of exploration easy, go easy on the heels. If you are staying over at a hotel, remember to ask for the tourist pass which entitles you to free public transport. Geneva is very well connected by buses and trams, so moving about with bags and children isn’t overly cumbersome an experience. So how about starting out with a relaxing stroll around the Parc de la Grange? This park is further away from the Jet d’Eau corner of Lake Geneva, and can be accessed by bus. Maison Favre does stand out as the only building of note on these grounds, check out the goldness on the window grills. When the grass is at its greeniest, the view is lovely gazing out towards Lake Geneva. You might feel like slumping onto the soft grass for a snooze, as I surely did, but time is of the essence so head towards the rose garden.

Parc de la Grange Maison Favre Simple Palates Seriously(2)

Parc de la Grange Rose garden Simple Palates Seriously
While it doesn’t boast the largest grounds, nor the largest collection of roses in Europe, there is certainly enough fantastical colours of the variety of roses planted into these grounds. Lots of bees buzzing around on this summer day tells of the overall health of this garden. We are now right at an entrance of the park, which is where you’d want to catch the bus towards the jet d’eau.

Geneva Flower clock L'horloge fleurie Simple Palates Seriously
So I’m skipping the Jet d’Eau and heading straight for the flower clock, or l’horloge fleurie. This is more of a strategic stop as this is located at a perfect spot to photograph the jet d’eau, and there are a couple of statues and sculptures in the resident park. It’s also not too far from the main train station if you’re travelling in that way. On a perfect day, this is such a picturesque spot, and I saw quite a few couples getting their wedding snaps taken here. There is also a little tourist train ride which will bring you around the lake towards the Parc de la Grange and back for a small fee.

Now, head south-west past one of the main shopping strips, Rue de Rhone, where you can browse Mont Blanc, Bucherer, Chanel, Hermes and Cartier. No worries if you miss any of these boutiques because these are like 7-11s in Geneva, you’ll find another one just around the corner. Make your way towards Rue de la Confederation, near the junction with Rue de Marche. Here, I’d recommend stopping for lunch at Brasserie Lipp. Its St-Germain outpost isn’t the flashiest joint in Paris, but the Geneva establishment is quite spot on with its seafood, meats and desserts. It might be a little tricky to locate, being tucked at the back of a partially raised mall, but it’s well worth the effort. Go early or late to avoid the crowds.

Brasserie Lipp Seafood Simple Palates Seriously

Brasserie Lipp Sauerkraut Simple Palates Seriously

Brasserie Lipp fraise strawberry berries dessert Simple Palates Seriously

Wow! Breathe slowly, catch your breath! After all that, you’re definitely going to need to walk it off! And I’ve got the perfect route. From Brasserie Lipp, head up Rue Bemont and on to Rue de la Tertasse until you find yourself diagonally across from Parc des Bastions. You’ll know you’re there when you spot the big roundabout with the statue of General Henri Dufour.

Parc des Bations Statue Henri Dufour Simple Palates Seriously (2)

The Parc des Bastions is the resident park of the University of Geneva, and who wouldn’t want to study on these peaceful grounds. Around us are the bible college, the philosophy department, and the music colleges.

Parc des Bastions Simple Palates Seriously

Parc des Bastions Chess Simple Palates Seriously

At the entrance of the park, there are several green slumber chairs but it would dangerous to lie on them even for a little while. I’d advocate using your noodle and having a game of street chess. Don’t wander off too far because the hill which you’re going to climb is just around the corner. Yes, it’s a hill, and I apologise in advance for the absence of any public transport to the next stop. Head up Rampe de la Trielle and along Rue Henri-Fazy to St Pierre’s Cathedral.

Jeremie St Pierre Cathedral Simple Palates Seriously
Jeremie has been offering warm welcome to all visitors, and he’ll point you towards the depths of the cathedral to view the archaeological dig. Here, you can gain a historical perspective of Geneva back to the 4th century from the Celt period up till the middle ages. The digs uncovered a trove of Allobroge and Roman, evidence of activities of the previous churches on this site prior to the building of this cathedral between 1160-1252.

Acheological site Cathedral St Pierre Simple Palates Seriously

Acheological site Cathedral St Pierre Simple Palates Seriously (2)

St Pierre Cathedral Geneve cannon Simple Palates Seriously

From here, walk past the city cannons to Rue de l’Hotel-de-Ville, past the corner bistro and onto Rue de la Fontaine. You can’t miss the colourful palette of Boutique Caran d’Arche.

Boutique Caran d'Arche Simple Palates Seriously (2)

Boutique Caran d'Arche Simple Palates Seriously
Growing up, throughout primary school, Caran d’Arche colour pencils were the ultimate colour pencils to own. The richness and quality is unsurpassed, not to mention the innovation of incorporating water colours into these pencils. It is hard to pull the trigger on a full box of colours, they are just so pricey! But every serious artist would have at some point in their trials utilised Caran d’Arche tools.

Boutique Caran d'Arche Simple Palates Seriously (6)

Boutique Caran d'Arche Simple Palates Seriously (4)

Continuing on the colourful theme, which culture immediately springs to mind? Nothing trumps the pageantry, colourful outlandishness of Bollywood, so yes have Indian food in Geneva!! But of course I won’t be leading you to the cheap takeaway at the train station. We’re headed to the Rasoi by Vineet at the Mandarin Oriental, a one Michelin-starred restaurant. Walk down Place du Bourg-de-four back towards the Eastern end of Parc des Bastions onto Rue de la Croix-Rouge where you can catch the 12 or 18 trams to the Geneve Bel-Air stop. From there, it’s a short walk across the Rue des Moulins bridge to Mandarin Oriental.

Originally started in London (Rasoi Vineet Bhatia is on Lincoln St, Chelsea), Vineet is proudly the world’s only Michelin-starred Indian cuisine since 2006. It is the evolution of Indian cooking, retaining the most prominent elements of Indian dishes and garnished by modern techniques. Vineet has branched out to Geneva with its sister restaurant offering tastes of the continent to the continent (hope you got this twist).

Rasoi Vineet Mandarin Oriental (3)

Rasoi Vineet Mandarin Oriental

The ambience is casual and comfortable, lunch time lighting is perfect since the restaurant looks out onto the quay and le Rhone. Their set menus are very well priced at 65chf for lunch and 75chf for dinner. The flavours here are very smart, clean and pure, nothing that would overwhelm your tastebuds. I really like the portion sizes and plating which is kept simple and clean. Very interesting modern interpretations of traditional Indian dishes, certainly an eye-opening experience.

Rasoi Vineet Mandarin Oriental (2)

Rasoi Vineet Mandarin Oriental Lam Seekh Kabab Mango Gazpacho Spinach sesame salad Simple Palates Seriously
Lamb Seekh Kabab crusted with pepper, with Mango Gazpocho, Spinach and Sesame salad, Chilli Cheese toast.

Rasoi Vineet Mandarin Oriental mushroom flavoured tandoori chicken brest truffle foam garam masala jus Simple Palates Seriously
Mushroom flavoured Tandoori Chicken Breast, ‘garam masala’ chicken jus, truffle foam, wild mushroom and sundried tomato khichdi.

Rasoi Vineet Mandarin Oriental Domaine Dardagny Garanoir 2013
Domaine Dardagny Garanoir 2013, nicely weighted in-between a strong pinot noir and grenache.

Right, so knock back that last coffee and congratulate yourself for a long day in Geneva well-spent. I’m very confident that you would be very satisfied with the food. A little more walking than some might anticipate, but do ask around for possible tram options. I hope this blitz of Geneva will be helpful for those looking for a quick turnaround here. Safe travels!

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Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy

Breakfast Thieves is a Fitzroy hidden gem that resides on a quiet residential block corner on Gore St. I’m not sure whether it’s a case of reverse stealing, because I’m going all Robin Hood on my shut-eye and nicking time off a Sunday sleep-in to feed my hunger. BT opens bright and early at 8am on weekends, but is available at 7.30am on weekdays to help out those in need of a caffeine fix on their way to work.

Breakfast Thieves Gore St Fitzroy Simple Palates Seriously

It has recently undergone a small makeover, and the menu is somewhat different from when I was last there. The coffee remains consistently good, and the staples on the menu are a sure-thing. However, there are a few quirky twists for your morning feast which I’d highly recommend. Especially if you’re planning a first time visit here, it is an ideal venue to break up the routine of Sunday eggs.

Breakfast Thieves  Unusual BBLT French Simple Palates Seriously
This unusual BBLT French brioche with bacon and caramelised banana was my favourite pick. It’s certainly try to be a diva of a breakfast, a showpiece to the establishment, similar to some of the other joints in the suburb. However, I do think it is a little too off center and not something you’d be able to come back to regularly.

Breakfast Thieves Eggs Mr Benedict Simple Palates Seriously
If you’re down for something more traditional, go with the trusty Mr Benedict (only on weekends). Benedict Cumberbatch-ian in nature, it’s simple, tasty, we could go more Downtown Abbey style if a couple of thin slices of cucumber were inserted into this. The hollandaise sauce is light and ever slightly creamy, and the egg yolks run a lovely orange colour.

Breakfast Thieves Spanish gypsy dance polenta crusted poached eggs morcilla black pudding Simple Palates Seriously
In the mood for something more substantial? Try the Spanish Gypsy Dance, with spiced morcilla sausage (aka black pudding of the continent). This is quite the challenge for my early Sunday morning because of the intensity of the eggs combined with morcilla sausage. A 1.5 punch. There isn’t an escape route from this. Be prepared to skip lunch.

Breakfast Thieves The Legend Baked Eggs Feta Chorizo Simple Palates Seriously
Finally, baked eggs anyone? Nicely prepared, egg yolks slightly cooked through. Little bits of chorizo to beef up the richness of the dish. But I think I’m a little over baked eggs at the moment. It might just be a phase, just not sure it’ll pass. Thing is, baked eggs aren’t really a breakfast dish is it? Plain ole’ poached eggs not good enough? Think hollandaise sauce is a bit too rich? Maybe try scrambled or fried? It’s just, well, the extra tomato-y sauce and chorizo, that could be turned into a proper lunch with a few additional ingredients. And a couple of slices of toasted bread is hardly proportional in terms of carbs to me. But this is just me being weird.

Breakfast Thieves is well-situated to provide great meals and coffee to those who appreciate friendly service, small twists in their dishes, and don’t want to brave the regular hipster crowds on Smith and Brunswick Sts. There are a couple of tables outside, perfect for the coming summer, and if you’d like to bring along the dog. The interior is spacious, offering low and high tables. Decor is attractive and simple, and the noise level never breaks into your conversation. Well recommended.

Breakfast Thieves on Urbanspoon

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Torbreck Les Amis 2002, Barossa Valley, SA

Torbreck Les Amis Grenache 2002 Barossa Valley Greenock Creek South Australia SA Simple Palates Seriously

$150 direct from winery. This is the second vintage of the Les Amis. Single vineyard, freakin’ old vines, a wine conceived by Dave Powell for his Singaporean friends, and especially Ignatius Chan when Justin Quek had not long established the Les Amis restuarant in Singapore. Everyone I’ve just mentioned has since moved on to different ventures. The vineyard is situated in Greenock Creek, planted in 1901, cropped to yields of 12hl/ha. Aged in 18 months new French barriques.

This has aged superbly. You will not feel any heat of the indicated 15.5% alc, so don’t be fearful of falling for any of that big bold Barossa rubbish. The acidity has held firm, this wine still drinks very fresh. Of course, it is fully developed, the tannins have shuffled to the background, the fruit is mellowing out. The blackcurrant and raspberry fruit is holding out, earthy and peppery. Full-bodied, pure, sleek and refined. Sustains a long finish. This is precisely why you age wines. 98.

It will be interesting to do a direct comparison of aged Australian grenache vs Chateauneuf du Pape.. an expensive exercise of curiosity for my next payday.

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Quattro Mano la Morada Touriga 2010, Barossa Valley, SA

Quattro Mano la Morada Touriga Nacional Tinta Cao Amarela Barossa Valley South Australia SA Simple Palates Seriously

$18 at DMs. A blend of Portuguese grapes typically associated with Port production, although the importers have been doing very well lately with many new still red blends of this combination. It is composed of 53% Touriga Nacional, 31% Tinta Amarela and 16% Tinta Cao. Deep ruby colour, slight purple rim. Clean, youthful aromas, not overly intense but just enough to impart a warm feeling, notes of blackcurrant jam, slight anise. Earthy, like red clay soil after a bout of heavy rain in the tropics. A dry, full-bodied wine, high in acidity, smooth velvet texture. The tannins are fine powdery, and only a slight layer lingers on the finish. 13% alc. Flesh blackcurrant fruit, jammy richness, savoury finish. A powered yet relatively simple wine to enjoy. Drink now – 2019. 87.

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