CANBERRA APPRECIATED – Wine, Produce and Pottery

This beautiful platter is by a friend, Sarit Cohen, a Canberra ceramicist. I love its functional shape and I selected this particular one because the motif reminded me of a fish. Sarit was born in southern Israel and is of Turkish and Indian decent. She explained that the simple dark shape is a verse from the Old Testament written in Hebrew script. The Bible is filled with examples of man seeking advice from God about choosing the right path and this is one of them.

And the round motif that could have been interpreted as the eye of the fish is part of a delicate but complex decorative pattern shaped around the text all pointing to the sky. Sarit has further enhanced the upward shape by placing it within a carved motif reminiscent of Islamic architecture.

I was also impressed by some of the produce I found at The Kitchen Cabinet at Old Parliament House – what an ideal opportunity to promote a wide range of quality, local produce in this well visited location. Their 2012 calendar of events also looks very impressive and diverse, for example Marion Halligan telling table tales while guests eat some of Elizabeth David’s recipes, or the Shiraz sunday lunch with Tim Kirk.

I bought some sourdough made by Ginger Bread Bakery, a meat terrine made by Kitchen Cabinet staff and a smoked trout from Cypress Valley near Grenfell – it was incredibly moist and delicate – apparently each trout is smoked one fish at a time using a traditional Swedish method. Each trout is then vacuum packed to preserve the taste and texture. Sarit’s platter was perfect for the above produce.

Guided by two friends who have recently relocated to Canberra, I visited three exceptional wineries, all only minutes from Murrumbateman: Gallagher, Helm and Clonakilla, each of them highly respected for their cool-climate Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.

Perhaps it is no surprise, but I found the coincidence intriguing that two of these wineries, Helm and Clonakilla, were established by CSIRO scientists based in Canberra. The third, Gallagher, was just as driven by a passion for wine and dedication to research; some excellent cheese is made in-house by Libby Gallagher.

Greg Gallagher

Meeting and talking to Greg Gallagher and Ken Helm was as enjoyable as drinking their wines. Both were generous with their time and their wines.

Ken Helm below:


Sadly, I didn’t get to meet John Kirk on my visit to Clonakilla’s cellar door, but did meet an enthusiastic staff member fresh from irrigating the vines to counteract the hot, dry spell of the last week.