We enjoyed the included drinks reception and steadily worked our way through mojitos, beer and bubbly until they stopped being free. Don't worry we got our money's worth. Soon the wait staff began bringing round trays of canapés: seared tuna rolled in parsley, king prawns with guacamole, chicken ballotine with avocado, foie gras parfait on litle crackers and smoked salmon and caviar.
Two guys set up an oyster shucking area in the corner and soon we were being offered raw oysters, mussels, scallops and huge prawns in their shells. Steve has never liked oysters since trying a battered one at a not very good Chinese restaurant but with lots of Dutch courage inside him he tried one of these ones and seemed to enjoy it enough to have a few more! I think we've come to the conclusion that we don't mind oysters but aren't the type to sit and eat through a high volume unlike some people I know.
After we grazed on shellfish, it was time for the meat to be circulated and we sampled Serrano ham, lomo and chorizo before little desserts came out. By the time dessert was offered it was getting close to 11pm and given we had prime seats on the terrace we decided to stay put until midnight.
After toasting the New Year we headed home, spoke to the family on Skype and decided to call it a night for the next few days were going to be busy!
With full bellies we followed Steve as he led us on a tour of the city. We walked through the laneways and arcades, saw the main city streets and Steve took us to a bar he'd been to before but was new to me called Madame Brussles. It looked like nothing from the outside and we had to take a dodgy looking lift to the top floor. When the lift doors opened we could see into this really cute rooftop terrace; all girly and quaint. The sun by this time was out to play and the waitress offered us parasols including pretty blue one she picked out especially for Steve to match his t-shirt. Suzi and I shared a jug of Summer Splendour and it was splendid!
Steve's tour continued and we walked by the Treasury Buildings, through Fitzroy Gardens where we stumbled upon the Conservatory which was all pink and lilac blooms and very pretty, we saw various wedding parties posing for pictures and Captain Cook's house. He never actually lived in the park but they shipped his home from Great Ayton near Scarborough brick by brick and reconstructed it in the garden.
We walked by the MCG and the Rod Laver Arena and made our way through the Shrine of Remembrance climbing the stairs to the balcony for a beautiful view of the city before heading back to Southbank via an ice cream stop. Steve and I realise we have to come up with various different walks so we can take out visitors round and this is one route we may well repeat.
Dinner was BBQ and Steve assumed the role of King Chef. We had steak, lamb cutlets, sausages, salad and garlic roasted potatoes. All very good. Mr B is getting very good at cooking on the outside grill so I encourage you to visit so you can try out his skills!
We had intended on going to the casino for a wander and post dinner drink but the fresh air and sunshine had wore us out so we changed into our PJs instead and called it a night for tomorrow was an early start...
Next stop was Yering Station where we spent an hour starting at the top of the list and working all the way down through the sparkling, the white, the rosé, the red and the port! We were surprised that not everyone on the tour participated and other even went to have a coffee instead!!! We were happy enough in our trio and we befriended a lady also on our tour, Wendy who was doing some travelling by herself and was visiting from Georgia, USA. Together we worked our way through all the wine they had on offer on the list and some extras too! The stand out here for me was a sparkling pink champagne that reminded me of strawberries and meringue without being sugary; delicious! And my darling husband spoilt me a little by buying a bottle for us to take home.
The winery is in a gorgeous location and the sun had come out by this time so after the wine tasting we spent a few minutes outside taking pics and wandering around.
For lunch we headed to Domaine Chandon, also a beautiful winery. All ten of us shared a table along with our driver and guide as well as another driver / guide who was with the same company but had been leading a private group and he'd decided to join us for lunch instead to give his passengers their own time. At Domaine Chandon, we were poured 4 half glasses of wine to have with lunch. They brought out antipasto starters with olives, the most delicious pickled onions, assorted meats, aubergine and artichokes for us to share and dig into. Our trio split up because of the seating around the table and Suzi went to sit with our new friend Wendy and the two drivers at the other end of the table. Steve and I got to know a couple from Perth and a couple from Canada a bit better. The good thing about these small tours is that given the price they charge, you know that you're likely going to be with likeminded holiday makers and this proved to be the case.
I had chosen the mussels and pipis dish (pipis being clams) which were in a very flavoursome broth with coriander and chilli and Steve went for the pork belly salad which he declared very tasty too. We had a quick browse round the shop and decided we didn't need Chandon emblazoned wine coolers and with full bellies and having had lots of wine we declared we were in a happy place!
The next winery was Coldstream Hill which was founded by James Halliday, a renowned Australian wine critic. Many restaurants have wine lists that feature wines he has reviewed. The wine here is of an exceptional standard and do not necessarily conform to tradition. They have a sauvignon blanc that smells just like a NZ one but the taste is completely different and not the watered down almost disappointing taste of a South African one. They also do some wonderful Chardonnays that are so different to the more common Chardonnay. Apparently they attribute the difference to the fact they only use French Oak barrels rather than American so the oakiness is understated and much more delicate and also they choose to shy away from the big, buttery typical Chardonnays. I would have swore blind that one of the ones we tasted was not a Chardonnay but a sauvignon blanc or perhaps a pinot gris. I wished my friend Steph was with us because she hates Chardonnay and I would have liked to see if the Coldstream Hills offerings would have fooled her palette! We left here with three bottles of wine to take home.
Final stop was the Yarra Valley Dairy which is a big tin hut offering cheeses and other produce as well as providing a platform for smaller wineries to showcase their produce. We enjoyed some fresh goats cheeses and then Steve and Suzi headed straight for some more wine tasting. I was all wined out by this point so tried one and moved onto a coffee! S&S were hardcore and continued sampling.
We were dropped off at home about 17:30 and rather than rest and become tired we decided to push on through and walked onwards to the Casino for a little wander. We had dinner at Sho which is a noodle place in the Casino before heading back home via an ice cream stop.
And our time with our first visitor was over. So sad! But we had such a fun time and have some fantastic pictures to remember it by.
I now have a few more days off before starting work again on Monday. Steve is straight into busy season and will be working this weekend too. Hopefully the busy stuff will be over by 17th in time for my birthday!