Tag Archives: wine

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios

This dessert recipe is dedicated to all my readers who are constantly asking me to post more sweet and baked treats on my blog.

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios -

Honestly guys, you know how much I shy away from desserts here. It’s not my biggest strength nor do I have a sweet tooth. So when I finally decide to make one, it must be simple, easy to comprehend and one of those no-fail recipes. And that’s exactly what we are making today – Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Cream Chantilly, Pistachios. Cannot get easier than this!

Easter is almost here, so I thought there would be so many people out there like me who can’t whip up complicated sweet treats. This recipe is a breeze to follow, one that anyone can put together. Good quality strawberries and a great tasting Sparkling is all that you really need to take care of.

As the name suggests, the dessert is just a happy marriage between all the four ingredients.

I used the Yellowglen Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Prosecco blend Sparkling; it has really refreshing, sweet, fruity flavours that is perfect for a dessert like this. Don’t worry about the alcohol bit if you are serving it to children as the quantity is really less. But if you prefer to keep it alcohol free, then use a great tasting non alcoholic sparkling that is easily available at all supermarkets instead.

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios -

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios -

Pistachios are for the crunch, adds a savoury, nutty texture that is required to complete the dessert. But you can also use wafers, sweet crisps, biscotti etc……anything that adds a crunch.

And before we get to the recipe, here’s another sweet treat that I made last Easter; a fun project if you have kids at home.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller


  1. 500gms strawberries; hulled and thinly sliced
  2. 100ml Sparkling wine
  3. Juice of ½ orange
  4. 3-4 tbsp icing sugar (sieved)
  5. ½ cup pistachios; coarsely crushed
  6. Crème Chantilly
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 35 gms icing sugar (sieved)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or vanilla bean paste)


  1. In a non reactive bowl, combine the strawberries, sparkling wine and orange juice. Add 2 tbsp icing sugar (sieved), mix well to combine and taste. Add more icing sugar if needed. Refrigerate for atleast 15 minutes to macerate or until required.
  2. To prepare the crème Chantilly, whisk the thickened cream, scraped seeds from the vanilla bean and icing sugar in a bowl till soft peaks form (take care not to over whip). Refrigerate until required.
  3. To assemble the dessert, add the macerated strawberries to 1/4th of the dessert glass/bowl; top with the cream and garnish with crushed pistachios.
  4. Serve immediately.

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios -

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios -

Strawberries, Sparkling Wine, Crème Chantilly, Pistachios -





Grilled Steak (with curry flavoured smoked sea salt) with Chimichurri Salsa and Fennel Salad (dressed with strawberry port wine vinaigrette)

Quite a mouthful title, isn’t it?

It had to be because today’s post is my dedication to the farmers and food and wine producers of the panoramic Yarra Valley.


Travel, for me, is not about just visiting a destination. It is about the whole experience of discovering what that place has to be offer, albeit at a small level. It is about bringing back not just memories but also intimate knowledge about the culture, food and life of that region. So when I got this amazing opportunity to visit Yarra Valley as part of the regional food group tour, I bought back some incredible food products and wine using which I created today’s recipe.

From the Gateway Estate, I bought home this bottle of strawberry port wine which I used to make the salad dressing. I really wanted to bring back some dry aged steak but unfortunately travelling by public transport didn’t allow me that luxury.



While walking around the regional farmer’s market at Yering Station, I came across the Smoke and Roast stall. Getting to hear about my fascination with spices and the like, the owner offered me a sample of their signature curry flavoured smoked sea salt which I have used in today’s recipe as the spice rub for my steak. I also bought a pack of their original smoked sea salt and this gorgeous looking salt container.

While I have used plenty of smoked sea salts before, I have never come across a curry flavoured one. Bang on flavour; totally recommend this one for your spice pantry.


I also picked up a bottle of Yering Station ‘Old Beenak Road’ Shiraz 2013. A single vineyard wine, I could not have asked for a better pairing to my steak. It was rich yet velvety and smooth with the hint of ripe blackberry fruit and peppercorn spices. The wine tasting session did improve my knowledge and helped me pick a really good bottle.


Our final stop in the journey was at the Locavore Studio from where I didn’t bring back a product but rather recipes and cooking skills. I learnt to cook the perfect steak and also picked up a great chimichurri salsa recipe, both of which are put to use today.



Usually I photograph the food for the blog beforehand for optimal light conditions. But today, I am inviting you to our dinner table – no unwanted props or stylized food; this is how we eat whenever I make something special at home.

So come along on this delicious journey……


For the fennel salad:

1. 2 cups mixed salad leaves
2. 1 fennel (white bulb); sliced lengthwise finely
3. 1 small red bell pepper; sliced lengthwise finely
4. 1 small red onion; sliced lengthwise finely
5. Fennel fronds; for garnish
6. For the vinaigrette:
• 4 tbsp strawberry port wine
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Salt, to season
• Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you do not have strawberry port wine, use vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic or any other port wine. Orange juice is also a great one to experiment with.

For the chimichurri salsa:

1. 1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves; finely chopped
2. 1 cup fresh coriander; finely chopped
3. 3-4 fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
4. 1 garlic clove; crushed and finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp strawberry port wine (red wine vinegar can also be used)
6. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
7. Salt, to season
8. Dried chilli flakes; a pinch (or more to suit your preferences)

For the steak:

1. 3 Scotch fillet steaks (the best quality you can buy)
2. Smoked curry flavoured sea salt rub
3. Olive oil
4. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you cannot get the smoked sea salt rub, use any spice rub of your choice or just salt and pepper.


To prepare the salad:

• Cut all the vegetables and place in a bowl. Refrigerate till serving time.
• To prepare the dressing, mix all the ingredients given under vinaigrette. Vigorously shake well to form an emulsion and keep aside.
• Dress the salad just before serving (remember to shake the vinaigrette again) and garnish with fennel fronds.

To prepare the chimichurri:

Combine the chopped leaves, garlic, port wine, olive oil, salt and chilli flakes. Taste and adjust balance if necessary. Refrigerate till serving time.

To prepare the steak:

• Heat the grill to smoking hot; most people make the mistake of not heating the grill enough so make sure its smoking hot.
• Crush the smoked sea salt lightly (the salt crystals were chunky).
• Rub olive oil onto both sides of the steak well and then rub the smoked sea salt all over the steak.
• Place the steak pieces on the grill lengthwise; after a minute turn the steak breadthwise on the same side to get the nice criss cross marks. Half a minute later, flip the steaks over and repeat the same (almost one minute each). This is an approximate time for a medium done steak.
• Remove and rest for 1-2 minutes before serving.

• If you prefer medium well, then place in the oven at 180°C for 2-3 minutes.
• Timings are always an approximate as the cooking times will vary according to the cut and quality of meat that you are using. So go by the feel of the meat and cook to your preferences.



Yarra Valley – Unique Food and Wine Experiences

With the sun shining bright, it’s time to revisit Yarra Valley and talk about the unique food and wine experiences this beautiful region has to offer.

Most of you have read about my previous article on Yarra Valley and the amazing experience I had meeting several farmers and food producers of the region. If you haven’t, then I would strongly recommend reading that post as today’s article is a continuation of that.


After we visited the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group Farmers’ Market, it was time to experience the glorious wines at Yering Station, Yarra Valley’s first vineyard. Established in 1838 by the Ryrie brothers who retained the aboriginal name of ‘Yering’ for their station; today, the property is owned by the Rathbone family who took over in 1996.

Yering Station is one of the breathtaking jewels of the Yarra Valley. A panoramic landscape that spreads over hectares, the property sits harmoniously amidst beautiful vineyards as far as eyes can see, a magnificent winery and restaurant complex which attracts locals, tourists and wine enthusiasts equally.



Just strolling through the open expansive spaces of the station can be a beautiful experience. There are plenty of sculptures and art works installed; especially loved the stone works.



The restaurant complex is another beautiful space where you can lunch with the most breathtaking view of the Yarra ranges. Though we couldn’t have lunch there, I would strongly recommend enjoying an idyllic but exquisite lunch matched with Yering’s award winning wines here.



The Cellar Door is where all the wine tasting action happens. The original winery building has been beautifully restored showcasing the Yering wines in all its glory. Private tastings are available and the team at Yering is extremely knowledgeable and proud of their collection. Visitors can also make wine purchases; the adjoining produce store also stocks an array of handmade artisanal products like chocolates, preserves etc….





Totally recommend a private wine tasting session which is a great way to sample the best Yering wines. Our wine expert for the day was the effervescent and very handsome Ewen Jarvis, who amused us with little anecdotes, all of which gave us a deeper understanding of wines. I love wines, but still a very beginner level so this tasting session helped me volumes to not only expand my knowledge but also to choose the perfect bottle of wine to bring back home.



If all that wine tasting works up your appetite, then head upstairs to Matt’s Bar, an informal dining space where you can experience the best of the seasonal produce in the form of shared plates, tapas and sweet treats.

Yering Station:

38 Melba Hwy Yarra Glen 3775
Victoria, Australia

Phone no: +61 3 9730 0100

Weekends & Public Holidays


Restaurant & Bar:

Open 7 days from 12.00noon for a la carte lunches
Open all public holidays
Closed Christmas Day

Cellar Door

Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10.00am to 6.00pm
Phone no: +61 (0) 3 9730 0100

Matt’s Bar

Open Saturday and Sunday from 10am
Menu changes daily
Bookings not available
Available for lunch functions

Now, there is a reason why we didn’t dine at the Yering Station. We were off to indulge in some hands-on cooking at Locavore Studio, courtesy Yarra Valley Transfers.

Locavore Studio is the brain child of Chef Jessie Rae Crossley, who after years of travelling and cooking on Super Yachts of the rich and famous in Melbourne, London and France has finally set up her own space in Lilydale.


Locavore Studio is one of the best cooking schools I have seen in a long time. A beautifully set up space with individual work stations, it has an extremely professional yet inviting feel to it. Jessie’s love, passion and knowledge about food comes through immediately and her enthusiasm is really infectious.


Jessie welcomed us with champagne and after a lot of admiring of her space, we all settled down to the class where she demonstrated 4 simple, easy to make dishes using the freshest produce Yarra has to offer. Here is what we learnt;

Yarra Valley Chilli Linguini with ashed goats cheese, Buxton Trout and capers. The beauty of Yarra Valley produce shines through in this dish; delicious swirls of linguine with just a hint of chilli generously flavoured with the smoky creaminess from the goat's cheese, flaky smoked trout rounded off by the saltiness from the capers.

Yarra Valley Chilli Linguini with ashed goats cheese, Buxton Trout and capers. The beauty of Yarra Valley produce shines through in this dish; delicious swirls of linguine with just a hint of chilli generously flavoured with the smoky creaminess from the goat’s cheese, flaky smoked trout rounded off by the saltiness from the capers.

Dry Aged Steak with Chimichurri Salsa. The dry aged steak from Gateway Estate is just melt-in-your-mouth and pairs brilliantly with the herby and refreshing flavours of the chimichurri salsa.

Dry Aged Steak with Chimichurri Salsa. The dry aged steak from Gateway Estate is just melt-in-your-mouth and pairs brilliantly with the herby and refreshing flavours of the chimichurri salsa.

A simple micro herb salad

A simple micro herb salad

Oregano and Garlic Foccacia

Oregano and Garlic Foccacia

Strawberry and stroopwafels trifle. Delicious stroopwafels from the regional farmer's market  with fresh Yarra valley strawberries and cream....the colour in that glass says it all.

Strawberry and stroopwafels trifle. Delicious stroopwafels from the regional farmer’s market with fresh Yarra valley strawberries and cream….the colour in that glass says it all.

The most distinctive feature of Locavore Studio is that after Jessie demonstrates how to make each dish, we also get a chance to cook the dish ourselves at a cooking station. For someone who loves to cook and learn new styles of cooking, I found this extremely appealing. And the highlight for me was learning to cook the steak perfectly.

Since there were four dishes, we were divided into groups and I paired with ‘The World Loves Melbourne’ to prepare the dry aged steak with chimichurri salsa. It was a whole lot of fun and laughter…..


After all of us prepared the dishes, it was time to sit down at this beautifully arranged rustic wooden table and enjoy all the dishes that we had made amidst a lot of fun and talk.


Jessie teaches a wide range of cooking classes; being a professional chef, she can easily customize a class to your specific needs or you can choose one from her most popular ones like Mexican street food or Spanish tapas. Apart from this, Locavore Studio also specializes in catering for all kinds of events and also takeaway meals. Indeed a beautiful way for anyone to experience the fresh and vibrant produce of the Yarra.

At the Locavore Studio, we also got an opportunity to meet Martin Cheney from the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group and discuss the importance of regional markets and the necessity to utilize and purchase locally grown food for a healthier society.

Locavore Studio

12 William Street East
Lilydale, Victoria

Phone no: 0400284949


For more information to plan your trip, visit and

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Lychee and Cardamom Bellini

2015 has been an absolutely rocking year for me so far. There have been so many unique experiences to add to my book of memories. And today I am going to share one such experience with all of you.

Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to attend a ‘Spice and Wine’ Masterclass held as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Chef Adam D’Sylva of Tonka and Shashi Singh of Avani Wines took us through a learning process on how to pair and match wines with Indian spices and flavours.


All of us who attended the event were encouraged to participate in the #socialfeeds cookbook competition hosted by Bank of Melbourne who was the official sponsor of the festival. I can’t seem to turn down any challenge these days and to cut a long story short, one of my recipes was chosen as a winner in the contest. And that meant, my winning dish gets to be featured in an e-cookbook curated by none other than Chef Benjamin Cooper of Chin Chin. The book is a first of its kind featuring recipes from home cooks across Victoria and is a beautiful showcase of how important food is to Australia and drawing inspiration from the multicultural vibe of this country.

(My winning dish was Fish Mappas – a traditional seafood preparation from the backwaters of Kerala, India which I am sure many of you have already seen on the blog. If you would like to download this ebook, just visit here. It’s free!)

Apart from this, there was another special prize….a copy of ‘Chin Chin – the Book’ by Benjamin Cooper. A collection of amazing recipes from Chin Chin, with a lot of detailed information on basic Thai cooking like making curry pastes and broths from scratch.

chin chin

This cookbook is going to be a much treasured one, not just for the beautiful memories now associated with it but also because I finally get to learn how to make these curry pastes from scratch, a long cherished culinary activity I have wanted to indulge in.

But today we are not having a Thai curry although the weather is just perfect for it. The cocktails included in this book were rather fascinating and so today, we are making a simple Bellini with Asian flavours.
Cocktail lovers would know this one for sure; for all others, Bellini is an Italian cocktail traditionally made using peach nectar and Prosecco sparkling wine.

But instead of using peach, today we have a Lychee and Cardamom Bellini. As far as cocktails go, I fall in the ‘rarely make and often drink’ category. So this Bellini was exciting as it was a very simple recipe with easy to find ingredients and hardly require any bar accessory as such. A simple blender would do the job!


A very refreshing drink and one more suited for the summery months; but I don’t mind drinking this all year through. The sparkling freshness of the Prosecco, tangy sweetness from the lychee sugar syrup and just that hint of spice from the cardamom….this Lychee and Cardamom Bellini is just gorgeous.

Even though my photographs don’t do any justice to the actual drink, I strongly urge you to give it a go if you are a wine drinker.



(To make 1 drink)

1. 30ml lychee and cardamom syrup
2. 90ml Prosecco
3. Lemon slice/twist, finely cut; to garnish
4. Lychee, to garnish

For the syrup:

(Makes enough syrup for 10-12 drinks)

5. 250gm white sugar
6. 5 cardamom pods
7. 1 can lychees


To make the syrup:

1. Heat 250ml warm water and 250gm sugar in a pan. As it starts to boil, crush the cardamom pods and add to it. Continue to heat till the syrup turns aromatic and turns a shade or two darker (should take approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove and allow to cool.
2. Blend one can of lychees along with its syrup till smooth.
3. Combine equal quantities of the sugar syrup with the lychees to get the lychee cardamom syrup.
4. Store in a bottle and refrigerate; use as necessary.

To make the Bellini:

5. In a champagne glass, pour 30ml of the lychee cardamom syrup and then gently top with the Prosecco.
6. Garnish with a lychee and lemon twist.



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