#HumanBrochure – A Day of Food and Wine

7 Jun

Those of you who follow me may have seen a whole host of posts recently where I’m using the hashtag #HumanBrochure. The reason being: I am one! In Canberra’s 101st year, ACT Tourism put out the call for social media-savvy Canberrans to be part of a huge campaign.

101 Canberrans have been chosen based on the quality of their content, and reach. Some of us are across many social media platforms, including blogs, and others just one or two. We got to nominate one of four available groups: Food & Wine (my group!), Adventure, Family Fun and Arts and Culture.

Throughout the months of May and June, ACT Tourism has organised a whole host of ‘discovery events’, where some of Canberra’s best is revealed to us. In many cases we get to go behind the scenes. Armed with this knowledge, at the end of October we get to invite two interstate guests and one Canberra local for a weekend spent how we choose, but with one special, niche event (still to be revealed!).

In amongst all these excellent discovery events, each group gets a whole day devoted to exploring the region around their theme. Food & Wine was first up – all we’d been told is that the day was starting with coffee, and ending with cocktails and entertainment. The rest was a surprise!

7.40am is an early start, and while there were many familiar if not very friendly faces, it did feel a little like arriving for a school excursion. We had an inkling about the first location, and we were right: The Cupping Room!

Jack greets us at The Cupping Room

Jack greets us at The Cupping Room

Owner Sasa Sestic explains the cupping process

Owner Sasa Sestic explains the cupping process

A coffee to welcome us

A coffee to welcome us

We’re met outside and escorted to one half of the cafe, which is the product of a concept several years in the making. We’re introduced to the cupping process – sniffing and slurping the coffee to ensure the smell and taste senses get the full experience of the coffee. Owner Sasa Sestic explained everything from how coffee tastes different depending on where the beans are picked along the branches, to how they’re wanting to produce a really nice coffee that’s sustainable.

Slurping time!

Slurping time!

We taste washed and unwashed, and filtered and natural coffees. Amanda, the genius behind HerCanberra and I are both non-coffee drinkers but absolutely willing to give it a go.

Filtered natural coffee

Filtered and natural coffee

Amanda looking dubious!

Amanda looking dubious!

Surprisingly, I do quite like the filtered coffee but there’s still an aftertaste that throws me. To conclude the coffee tasting experience, we’re treated to The Cupping Room’s specialty brew: a raspberry creaming soda coffee. It’s a complicated process of brewing espresso, then adding dry ice and raspberry concentrate, leaving it to brew while covered, and pouring into wine glasses. I took a not particularly well focussed video if you’re interested:

For food, we’re treated to two beautiful and light dishes to match with the coffee.

Cured salmon with fennel, beetroot jelly, creme fraiche and sourdough croutons

Cured salmon with fennel, beetroot jelly, creme fraiche and sourdough croutons to match the washed and unwashed coffees

Avocado, banana and cocoa mousse, balsamic strawberries, wheat crumb to match with the raspberry creaming soda coffee

Avocado, banana and cocoa mousse, balsamic strawberries, wheat crumb to match with the raspberry creaming soda coffee

Feeling a little more energised, we board our bus and head ’20 minutes away’. Depending on traffic and lights, we deduce we’re either heading to the EPIC Farmers Markets or Poacher’s Pantry. It’s the latter!

Poacher’s Pantry has recently redone the road into the venue and our Murrays bus makes it down with no trouble at all. We’re greeted by mother and son Susan and Will Bruce and learn about their air-dried meats (the climate’s perfect for it) and local wines (Will’s recently taken over as wine maker). Susan’s message to us is that Canberra and the region is open and ready for business: there’s so much happening and – to my mind, at least – it seems like we’re winning awards and new supporters (hello, New York Times!) every day.

Luke explains the Wily Trout wines - the sparkling is spot on

Luke explains the Wily Trout wines – the sparkling is spot on

Susan started Poacher’s Pantry back in 1991 and I reckon it’s one of Canberra’s most recognisable and liked institutions. She began going around to the back of hotels with their products back then and was stoked to find they wanted to stock her creations – and many Canberra stores and restaurants still stock their products. Poacher’s Pantry is a gorgeous location and they’re expanding to include a new wedding area (I’m no doubt it’ll be popular!), and they’re doing tours of the smokehouse as part of the Fireside Festival (more events should be listed soon).

Cured meats with pinot noir

Cured meats with pinot noir

As for the food? Be bold and try the kangaroo prosciutto. You won’t regret it.

Next stop is ‘down the road’ and I’ve hopes for Four Winds Vineyard and their gourmet pizzas – and those hopes are realised!

Walking through Four Winds Vineyard back to the cellar door

Walking through Four Winds Vineyard back to the cellar door

First we’re taken to do a smell taste. So much of wine tasting is through your sense of smell, and Four Winds have capitalised on this with a bit of a game. There are vials of ‘white wine smells’ and we’re asked to match what we’re smelling to a list of foods. I don’t do so badly at the white wine smells, but I’m shocking at the red wines – and this time we’re playing to win a bottle of wine. My sense of smell is so bad that I max out a 1/12 right guesses…!

Wine scents challenge

Wine scents challenge

We conclude Four Winds with their famous gourmet pizzas (available 12-3pm on weekends and public holidays) and salad.

Potato & gorgonzola, salami & olive and bbq chicken

Potato & gorgonzola, salami & olive and bbq chicken

Our next stop is just two minutes away… where else could it be but Clonakilla, the vineyard home to Australia’s winemaker of the year, Tim Kirk. This is a family vineyard, with his father Jim Kirk starting the vineyard many years ago, and many (all?) of the brothers on the Clonakilla board. There are 30 acres of vines belonging to Clonakilla, and they were the first in Australia to do Viognier in the 1980s.

Clonakilla tasting

Clonakilla tasting


We’re taken out back where we sample some of the finest, and the ABC news crew turns up. Here’s the finished product (with thanks to Eileen for uploading it to her YouTube channel!).

Finally, we’re heading back to Canberra – this is the event we can’t guess. I am nothing if not curious (and I don’t particularly like surprises!) so I think drive our very accommodating Visit Canberra guide a bit nuts BUT as we try to guess it’s amazing just how many cocktail places in Canberra we can come up with, from a host of new places in New Acton, to Mint Bar and Knightsbridge in Braddon, to bars in Manuka.

One of our guesses is right: Polit Bar! Located upstairs in Manuka (where the old Julep Lounge used to be), it’s 1920s-inspired with low-lighting – we could be anywhere – and we’re treated to martinis, massive Arcobrau beers, an absinthe fairy and absinthe fountain, champagne cocktails, burlesque performances, live singers, zucchini cigars, a tarot card reader and a magician… they’ve outdone themselves.

Food and drink at Polit Bar

Food and drink at Polit Bar

It’s a fitting conclusion to a long day. These are fun venues and the day serves as a fitting template on how to pack in as much as possible and enjoy Canberra’s best coffee, wines and nightlife. My mind’s brimming with ideas for October… but you’ll just have to wait and see!

Date: Saturday, May 31 2014

Cost: We all attended as guests of Visit Canberra

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? See my previous posts here:

Many of the passionate foodies wrote about their food and wine experiences, but Jonathan McFeat’s is an absolute standout with his incredible photography.

Keep an eye on the Human Brochure page for up to the minute updates on everything happening in Canberra!


6 Responses to “#HumanBrochure – A Day of Food and Wine”

  1. Gary Lum (@garydlum) June 8, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Everything looks delicious Tara. Everyone is having a lot of fun.

  2. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things June 8, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    #HumanBrochure is a fantastic initiative from Canberra Tourism… sounds like the foodie cohort on this next round is doing some really interesting and exciting things… so glad you are enjoying it, Tara.

  3. whisperinggums June 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Sounds like huge fun … must get hubby out to Poacher’s Pantry. I’ve been a couple of times over the years but he never has. And, I’m keen to try the Cupping Room. Well, darn it, it all sounds good … of course, it does, it’s Canberra!


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