I am so thrilled to have been invited to a wine tasting night at ZIGI's Art Wine and Cheese Bar recently. This celebration of great food and wine was so eloquently timed for the eve of Australia Day. This is now the second time I have enjoyed Zigi's middle eastern cuisine.
The labne cheese got the party started, and those quizzes.
Zigi partnered up with the Willunga 100 wine company to bring food and wine connoisseurs from different areas of Sydney into trendy Chippendale together. This Israeli restaurant is located on Abercrombie Street, not far from Broadway and Central station.
These food and wine events run once a month, and always on a Saturday night with a slightly different theme to the month prior. For example, Zigi is planning on running a chocolate and wine tasting night in April. This could be to coincide with Easter, however, Zigi has not finalised the details as yet. It is all a matter of let's wait and see.
The host of this event was Kate Day from the Willunga 100 wine company. Kate is rather personable, and with her enthusiasm for people and wine a great night came into fruition in no time at all. There were about 35 of us in total, spread out over five tables. I arrived right on 7pm, and at that time a few more people were still arriving. These monthly events at ZIGI's start at 7pm, and are meant to finish at 9pm. Lucky for us, we started to make a move at around 10:30pm with goodness knows how many glasses of wine we actually consumed.
Both Zigi and Kate are rather generous people. Zigi with the food, and Kate with the wine. This beautiful night started with a glass of Pinot Gris. I am not much of a white wine person, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this wine from the Adelaide Hills district. There was a distinct pear flavour, and it wasn't too strong.
There were two separate quizzes to complete with the first set of wine tastings, then the first dish arrived on our tables. The first food to be enjoyed was Zigi's signature cheese - the labne. The food and wine service was a little slow at first, and then both the food and wine came to us so thick and fast from around 8:45pm onwards. Therefore, the labne cheese was cleaned up in no time at all. This cheese is rather heavy, yet a smooth texture is enjoyed with a pleasant aftertaste. This cheese was matched perfectly with the Pinot Gris.
The other wines tasted included the Grenache and some Shiraz. Zigi fascinated us by bringing out his signature dish next. The time came to enjoy some Felafel Prawns with labne mousse and pomegranates. Separate to that, a few pieces of falafel were also handed out. The labne cheese complimented the falafel beautifully. The best falafel one has tried in a long time.
The party continued, and Zigi came to join us with his great personality and sense of humour. He wasn't wearing his chef's uniform. Zigi was dressed in a tux instead, and there were times where he was enjoying a glass of red wine or two.
The food kept coming now, and so did the red wine. Our table loved the red wine so much - to the point that Kate gave us our own bottle to share. In addition to an omelette like dish, we enjoyed some beautiful grilled chicken with mushrooms. Due to the sheer size of these chicken pieces, it would have been nice to have been given a knife instead of using one fork to cut up and enjoy these pieces. These were snack sized chicken pieces on steroids. Some lamb with tomato and cous cous also made an appearance. I loved the lamb and tomato, yet I wasn't too sure about the cous cous on this occasion. Why? A bit too chewy for my liking.
The fun continued, while we were all in sync talking about some great food joints in Sydney, as well as the evolution of wine. The iconic wine racks were mentioned, where (once upon a time) wine was stored for a bit of time to mature and to then consume. Nowadays wine is consumed virtually instantaneously. The lovely people I was sitting with travelled from the North Shore to be at this event. One of the guests just flew back from Asia to be here.
The finale had to comprise of some gourmet cheese (a cheese plate) with raisins, cranberries and figs. Agreed, we all had too much to drink. None of us were fit to drive home. Comments such as "lucky you're catching the train home" were mentioned on a frequent basis. With a passionate wine expert hosting the night, we were in wine heaven. We knew we could sleep it all off the next day if we had to. Wine is clearly in Kate's veins. She studied wine at university level while living in Adelaide, even though she admits to being a Sydney girl through and through.
Lucky door prizes were also given out on the night
There were a few lucky winners from the quiz and the lucky door prize respectively. More wine to take home for them. Okay, now our brains have already been put to the test with two quizzes, and despite this, some science now comes into the mix when it is almost time to leave. Kate mentioned at this time that there is more sulfur in white wine than there is in red wine, and that there is more sulfur dioxide in champagne than there is in wine. Kate then goes on to mention that the sulfur in wine stops the wine from oxidising.
Excellent value for money at $50 a pop for what is meant to be two hours of food, wine and entertainment central in hippy ambience. We were promised five food dishes, and five different wine tastings, yet the serving sizes of the food started to become more generous as each and every dish was brought out. As the wine tasting progressed, Kate also became more generous with the wine servings. The event was supposed to finish at 9pm, yet from 10:30pm onwards we all started to leave. Plus there were a few prizes up for grabs, not to mention the great socialising going on. Seeing Zigi make a cocktail behind the bar was also cool.
Right outside the venue with the best of three different worlds inside for a little while