Tag Archives: Australian wine

FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

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Greetings dumplings, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we have wine, babies, and beef. Although not in the same recipe, as I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know.

First, the frustration that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Bad. Very, very bad is all I can say about my game at the moment. I even tried marking my balls with bright blue love hearts in the faint hope it might amuse Oh, Great Golfing God, but no. Recent form has proven that it only made him crankypants. However the weather has been glorious and the company enjoyable, and, really, when one is playing this atrociously the only way is up!

Michelle Douglas authorAs much as I would like to move on to the wine bit of this week’s Feast, the baby must come first. My guest is the ever-delightful Michelle Douglas, who received her first rejection letter at the age of eight for Keri the Koala Baby.

Michelle has since moved on from koalas but not necessarily babies, and is now a multi-published author writing for Harlequin’s Romance line. Her latest is Reunited By A Baby Secret, part of the Vineyards of Calanetti continuity and a guaranteed heart-tugger. Check it out.


Reunited By A Baby Secret coverShe’s back in Calanetti…

After a vacation in paradise, Marianna Amatucci returned to her family vineyard determined to make a fresh start. But her plans changed in an instant when two blue lines on a pregnancy test reveal she’d returned home with a souvenir!

When she finds the father, Ryan White, he’s nothing like the laid-back surfer she met on the beach. In a tailored suit, he oozes masculine authority, and he’s staying in the penthouse! What will walking into his high-flying corporate world mean for their baby…?

Did you hear that, my lovelies? Vineyards! A baby! A sexy hero! Just what you need to give a smile, a sigh and maybe even a little tear. And Reunited By A Baby Secret can be yours right now with a mere click. Buy from Booktopia, BookdepositoryAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

All set? Good. Now feel free to get beefy!

Fine Vines

To be visiting Cathryn today and talking about wine does seem rather appropriate. Not that I mean to be telling tales outside of school or anything, but Cathryn and I do seem to find ourselves in the bar together on a rather regular basis at RWAust and ARRA conferences. 🙂

Authors enjoying a tipple

Wine has been on my mind quite a bit recently because my latest release REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET is set in the rolling green hills of Tuscan wine country, and my heroine is a viticulturist. Mind you, Marianna is pregnant so wine tasting is out for her, but it wasn’t for me. And, naturally, a girl has to provide due diligence and perform appropriate research. So off to the Hunter Valley I went to look at vineyards and taste wines. I discovered two things:

  1. Wine country is gloriously beautiful regardless of what part of the world you’re in.
  2. One shouldn’t wine taste at 11 o’clock in the morning if they haven’t had breakfast. 😉

So, in honour of all things wine-related, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes with you. This, amazingly enough for me, is ludicrously healthy. It’s also incredibly simple. And despite what the photo looks like (I’m terrible at taking pretty pictures of food) it’s utterly delish.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef and red wine casserole

Place the following ingredients into a nice big pot: ½ kilo of diced beef, two diced onions, two large sliced carrots, 2 sliced sticks of celery, a diced green capsicum, 200g sliced mushrooms, a clove or two of crushed garlic, a can of tomato puree (415ml), a teaspoon of Italian herbs, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup of red wine.

Bring it all to the boil and then cook on low, covered for 90 mins.

My favourite way to eat this is with mashed potatoes and green beans. But crusty bread is perfect with it too. Pasta would work as well. Also, it’s a forgiving recipe. I’ve made it with one onion rather than two, and when I haven’t had a green capsicum on hand I’ve used a zucchini to fine effect, so feel free to mess about with the ingredients. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me to visit, Cathryn! I always love hanging out with you (whether wine is involved or not).


A pleasure to host you, Michelle! Your casserole sounds beautiful and just the thing to enjoy with a glass (or two) of Hunter shiraz. Then a nice relax with Reunited By A Baby Secret and a very pleasant evening is to be had.

Okay, food lovers, what would you serve with Michelle’s casserole, or a casserole like it?

I love the idea of crunchy green beans but we do adore our bread and would probably have a nice crusty loaf on the side to mop up all that tasty gravy. What about you? Share away!

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Goodreads.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cheryl Adnams

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Greetings gorgeous people, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we go a-tippling through one of Australia’s most loved wine regions with a rural romance author who certainly knows – and loves – her stuff.

But first, the hell that is currently Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. The winter of my golfing discontent continues, with no sign of spring. To make matters worse, I have developed a phobia for the 15th, a nasty hole with a dam right in front of the tee that has become a death trap for any ball I hit. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were a large water hazard, but in the context of things it’s a mere puddle. A puddle that, to my ongoing humiliation, I can’t seem to cross. I’m starting to wonder if I just wouldn’t be better skipping the hole all together. Given the balls it’s costing me, it’d certainly be a cheaper option!

Author Cheryl AdnamsEnough of my sooky lamentation, it’s time for our guest, who I promise will be far more entertaining than me.

I’m delighted to welcome Cheryl Adnams for her debut Friday Feast appearance. Cheryl’s a fellow South Australian who, after having lived and worked in the US and Canada, and for a tour company in Europe, now calls Adelaide home. As all good folk do, she has a deep love for South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region and is the perfect setting for her Muller’s Field rural romance series.

The first book in the series is Bet On It. Take a look!


Bet On It by Cheryl AdnamsA sizzling rural romance set in the McLaren Vale, with a girl who’s ready for a change and the three brothers who are determined to win her over.

Her job is gone and her boyfriend has moved interstate. Gabby is in need of a change of scenery, and the Muller’s Field winery in McLaren Vale might just be the right place. The three Muller brothers who run the winery are dangerously good-looking and Gabby senses they are just as much trouble.

Seth Muller isn’t sure it’s a good idea to make a bet with his brothers on who can seduce Gabby first. But Gabby is too gorgeous and too wonderful to give up without a fight. But what happens when he begins to fall harder than he’s ever done before? Will a silly brotherly bet ruin their chance for love?

Chasing the Flames by Cheryl AdnamsDeep sigh. A rural romance set in a vineyard. Hard to pass that up and you most certainly don’t have to. In fact, Bet On It could be yours with just a few clickety-clicks and while you’re there why not grab book two in the Muller’s Field series, Chasing the Flames. Try those most excellent folk at Booktopia. You can also buy from Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Without further ado – because I know you’re hanging out for a slurp of McLaren Vale deliciousness –  here’s Cheryl.

Plotting the Platter (or as I like to call it – ‘Dinner’)

Thanks for having me over to Friday Feasts Cathryn. I love seeing all the gourmet delights our wonderful Aussie authors share. What a great combo of food and fiction.

Firstly, I would like to say I can cook and I used to love baking as a kid but I live alone so that is just too dangerous on my waistline these days.

What I have become an expert at recently though is cheese platters. Not difficult, I hear you say. But I have learned there is actually an art to pairing the right cheese, crackers, fruits and wine to give you the taste explosion that causes audible ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’.

My Muller’s Field series of books ‘Bet On It’, ‘Chasing the Flames’ and hopefully the soon to be released final installment ‘Handpicked’, are based around a fictional winery in McLaren Vale. The winery is run by three gorgeous brothers and their widower father. Who doesn’t love a sexy wine baron, right? But the three brothers face some obstacles on their way to finding love including tenacious ex-boyfriends, scheming ex-wives, lycra-clad cyclists and deadly bushfires and many other surprises along the way. Intrigued? I hope so.

So in the name of research I dragged myself kicking and screaming (as if) down to McLaren Vale to study all things wine and food in the region so that my hunky wine barons sounded like they actually knew what they were talking about.

A mere 45 minutes from my house, nestled between the sea and the hills, are around 80 cellar doors and a multitude of restaurants and foodie experiences. Naturally I have had to try as many as possible – again, all in the name of research.

So here are a few of my favourite cellar doors and food experiences in McLaren Vale, many of which are mentioned in the Muller’s Field books. And I have provided a list of options to make a cheese platter that is bound to impress at your next dinner party.

Favourite cellar doors in no particular order:

Yangarra Estate Vineyard

Much of my research was done here where I joined the harvest for a day in 2014. I handpicked and foot-stomped Grenache grapes and then a year later returned to bottle and label that wine. The Grenache is drinkable immediately and gorgeous. I can also recommend the Roussane and the GSM.

Picking grapes at Yangarra

Stomping grapes

bottling winePrimo Estate

There is not one wine on the Primo Estate list that I do not love. You can choose from a wide variety of blends made from grapes grown in Italy or you can try the exclusive range of Joseph wines handcrafted in small quantities. Picking a favourite wine at Primo would be like choosing a favourite child, but the La Biondina Colombard is a fresh white for summer and the Merlesco Merlot is unusually served cool. Love the Primo Secco prosecco as well.

Kangarilla Road

I have been a fan of Kangarilla Road wines for years. Again the variety of wines is extensive with all those fabulous names like Primitivo, Terzetto, Montepulciano and my personal favourite the Zinfandel.

For food experiences in the McLaren Vale region you are spoilt for choice. There are still many places on my bucket list but I just keep returning to the following:

1/. The Victory Hotel

Atop Sellicks Hill the hotel has a 180 degree view of sea and vines. The food is sourced locally and is inexpensive. Still the best salt and pepper squid I have ever tasted. If you visit you MUST take a look down in the underground wine cellar. Functions can also be held there. Sitting out on the front lawns of the hotel watching the sunset over the water is a summer must.

2/. Blessed Cheese

The name says it all. Pick up your specially prepared baskets of cheeses, olives, dips, smoked meats and chocolate. Then take a Progressive Picnic following the provided cellar door maps, matching the food to the wine tasting.

There are so many other foodie experiences to choose from. The Star of Greece on the clifftops at Port Willunga, the Willunga Sunday markets, the Fruchoc Shop in the Main Street of McLaren Vale, to name a few.

Now for the platter:

Adelaide Hills Triple cream brie (because if you are going to be bad, be bad x 3)

Quince Paste or Cabernet Paste

Almond Bread brings out the sweetness in the cheese

Nectarine or apple or both adds the health factor but piled on top of the cheese and almond bread makes it a meal in itself

Add a few grapes or dried cranberries and almonds to the side for garnish or eating

Drink with a crisp white wine like a Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard or the Yangarra Estate Roussane or Viogner or go red with the Kangarilla Road Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese.

Cheese platter with Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard

Photographs credit to Belinda Stevens.

Okay readers in the Comments section below, why don’t you share your favourite food and wine pairing. Eg: Port and dark chocolate or bruschetta and Sauvignon Blanc.


Wonderful, Cheryl! I thoroughly enjoyed that and if it weren’t so early in the morning I’d crack a McLaren Vale shiraz and toast your foodie travelogue excellence. Alas, that shall have to wait until later this evening, but it shall be done!

So, foodie lovelies, what’s your favourite food and wine pairing? Personally, I get terribly excited over a glass or two of dry Provencale-style rosé and goat’s cheese. And  most evenings will find us sharing half a square of good quality chocolate with a glass of something red.

What about you? Perhaps a treacly tokay with a luscious dessert is more your go, or an elegant riesling paired with a delicate white fish fillet. Perhaps you don’t drink wine but love nothing more than a cup of tea and a scone. Whatever your tipple, we’d love to hear your favourite pairing.

If you’d like to learn more about Cheryl and her rural romances, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @cadnams

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Phillips

Oh, I do love Fridays. Not only is it the end of the week, which means fun, frivolity and very, very soon FOOTBALL, it’s Friday Feast time. And I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly enjoying these posts. Everyone has such wonderful food stories to share and today’s guest is no exception.

I am a huge admirer of Christina Phillips. Her writing is beautifully lyrical, her stories compelling and her heroes… well, let’s just say they make me gooey. A lot gooey, in fact. Maximus, Maximus, you sexy Roman hunk of….

Oh, sorry. Where was I? Yes, praising Christina. Wonderful writer. Fabulous books. You must check them out. No, seriously, you must. Forbidden, Captive and soon, writing as Christina Ashcroft, Archangel of Mercy.

Here’s a look at Forbidden to give you a taste.

He was a master of seduction – but no match for the magical allure of the woman he wanted most…

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion – his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan’s ethereal princess, Carys, his daring voyeur. Falling under her spell, he doesn’t realize her true heritage – until he captures her heart as well as her body.

As Carys’s loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, an avenging former lover threatens to crush Maximus’s people into oblivion. Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive.

Think of it… Maximus in his naked barbarian glory. How can you possibly resist!

Oof. Look at me rabbiting on again. Without further ado, here’s Christina.

Thank you Cathryn for having me on your blog today! I love the idea of your Friday Feast blog posts and all the delicious recipes. I’m sure I’ve whacked on several kilos just by drooling over the photos!

Since I’m a bit of an undomestic goddess I thought I’d chat today about a recent wine tour we enjoyed in the gorgeous Margaret River region of Western Australia. It was to celebrate my husband’s birthday and my daughters discovered a fantastic villa right on the river – Riverzedge Retreat.

Two weeks before the weekend we sat him down and told him we were going away and he needed to take time off work (yes he does need to be told this!) The weekend arrived and the weather was perfect. The villa was stunning and our bedroom was fabulous. I’ve always had a craving to sleep in a four poster bed and although it didn’t quite have the four posts it did have the most gorgeous drapes, and combined with the breathtaking views it was a little slice of heaven!

On the Saturday morning the seven of us trudged down the hill to wait for the tour bus. Aha! As an added surprise we’d told him we were taking the tour bus and I will never forget the look of absolute astonishment on his face when instead of a bus, an amazing white limo pulled up!

I would now love to give a detailed description of every winery we visited and wines consumed. Unfortunately, I enjoyed myself far too much at the first stop with a selection of Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlots and the entire day is one very happy blur!!!

However, I do remember we stopped for lunch at the Voyager Estate with its magnificent Cape Dutch architecture. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and after we’d eaten (I believe more wine was also consumed!) we had a leisurely wander around the lovely rose gardens.

One of the experiences I’ll never forget is the adorable kookaburra that woke us each morning by dive bombing our windows. I’m originally from the UK and a total City girl, and even after living in WA for thirteen years the incredible wildlife still leaves me breathless. It was kind of surreal to hear this kookaburra doing his best to wake us up, then we’d walk out onto the balcony and there he’d be, perched on the rail and giving us the beady eye. It’s the closest I’d ever got to this cheeky bird and I discovered they are a lot bigger than I’d imagined when, as a child, I’d warble “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree…” We also had a family of ducks who’d waddle right up to the back door looking for edible goodies.

It was a wonderful weekend away with great company, plenty of wine and delicious food (none of which I had to cook and in my book that is a huge bonus!!)

As a side note, when I was researching for my Roman/Druid romances I came across several fascinating tidbits. Apparently the Romans thought it was common to drink wine neat and instead they’d cut it half with water. But what really knocked me sideways was how during the earlier Republic period it was against the law for Roman women to drink wine at all. The reasoning behind this was because, naturally, women were unable to control themselves and if they drank wine they would sleep around. A man was within his rights to kill his wife if he discovered she’d been drinking and in order to discover if she had he would kiss her on the lips! So much for romance 🙂 Needless to say none of my heroes harbour such barbaric prejudices!

Sigh. That sounds so wonderful. Thanks, Christina. Fabulous post. Margaret River is one of the few Australian wine regions I’ve yet to visit and this just makes me want to go there more. Although I’ll definitely have to drag along the golf clubs so I can wear off all that delicious food and drink with some exercise.

Now, Christina has a special gift for ten lucky commenters. Share your favourite wine region or, if wine isn’t your thing, simply your favourite tipple, and you could score a very attractive and handy present!

Get commenting because entries close midnight, Tuesday, 21st February Australian Eastern Standard Time. And don’t forget to include your email address or a link so we can contact you. Open internationally.

If you’d like to know more about Christina and her beautifully written books, please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog, Twitter and Facebook.


The contest is now closed. Christina has generously offered a prize to all who participated, with details on how to claim in the comments section.

Thank you for joining in the Friday Feast fun!