Monday, February 15, 2016

Arboretum, Yarra Valley Tasting and Multicultural Festival

I met Little B at the National Arboretum for a coffee and a chat about theatre, and then we went for a wee walk over the hills to look at the views. The Arboretum was created in response to the bushfires of 2001 and 2003, which wiped out much of the city's forests. It features threatened, rare and symbolic trees from around the world, many of them ceremonial trees planted by visiting heads of government and ambassadors.

There are lots of little trees that will grow into big trees and help to reforest the bush capital. The National Bonsai collection is also held here. They won't grow into big trees.

I like the sculpture 'Wide Brown Land' by Marcus Tatton, Futago Design Studios and Chris Viney. It depicts words taken from the poem 'My Country' by Dorothea McKellar, which describes her perception of Australia. The sculpture is based on McKellar's handwriting, and was designed to be large enough to be seen from miles away on Canberra's roadways, while also inspiring visitors to engage with the artwork.

Little B with Wide Brown Land
Canberra panorama
Wide Brown Land
The Pod Playground looks like a lot of fun. Apparently it is designed to challenge and excite, encouraging children to climb, swing, slide and explore. Giant wooden acorns and banksia seedpods are connected by slides, chutes, net tunnels, climbing frames and ladders.

Little B says it is relatively easy for an adult to get stuck in the chutes. She claims to have this information on good authority.
The pod playground at the National Arboretum
For my work I attended a trade fair for producers of gin, wine and cider from the Yarra Valley. Four Pillars have a new gin called Spiced Negroni, which is inspired by the classic cocktail. It is highly aromatic with spicy characteristics of Tasmanian pepperberry leaf, cinnamon and Grains of paradise (an exotic West African spice with notes of clove and sichuan). It is also distilled with organic blood oranges and ginger. It's spicy, refreshing and intense. I liked it a lot.

Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin
Cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy
Yarra Valley Dairy supplied us all with delicious cheese. The white savourine (white mould goat's milk cheese; robust, tangy and slightly nutty) and black savourine (ashed white mould goat's milk cheese) were subtle yet flavoursome. The Persian fetta, marinated in garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and olive oil, was creamy and salty with a big finish, and I particularly enjoyed the Gentle Goat with its creamy citrus texture and flavour.

The Soumah 2013 Single Vineyard Chardonnay was spectacular and my favourite wine of the evening. The tasting notes explain, 'the delicate yet complex bouquet displays a struck match, yeasty brioche character with a fresh and vibrant palate of citrus and cashew with a clean finish of great length.' For once, I agree entirely with the tasting notes. 

Soumah Wines
Mandala Wines
We did a circuit tasting the chardonnays and the bubbles. Mandala (as well as having a glorious Renaissance-inspired label) did a fine Blanc de Blancs (nutty, biscuity notes; aromas of honeysuckle and lemon zest; flavours of golden apple and ripe nectarines) and a peach/pear - lemon-lime style chardonnay in The Compass (2012).

Giant Steps Single Vineyard Wines
At the weekend the Multicultural Festival filled the city centre with colourful costumes, food and drink, and music and dancing. We sat and watched the Indonesian contingent as they returned from the parade. 

It's thirsty work watching all these people in costumes on a stinking hot day, but fortunately there were some watering holes.

The Plonksters
Him Outdoors as Handsome Barman

Children ignoring the Peruvian panpipers
Latin American music, apparently. It sounded a bit like rockabilly to me, which was rather entertaining, but I left when they got out the banjo. No one needs to hear that.


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