Last night (as at the time of writing this, and still a little on the tipsy side) was my second visit to ZIGI's Art Wine and Cheese Bar in Chippendale. This establishment is so easy to get to, as you're just off Broadway, and only a short stroll to Sydney's Central Train Station. Just as well.
I recently attended one of ZIGI's monthly wine and food events. At $50 a pop, you're in for a real treat. Apart from Zigi himself, the night was mainly hosted by Kate Day from the Willunga 100 wine company.
Some of the wines tasted
Kate was just delightful and beautiful. Wine is definitely running through her veins. Her passion and knowledge for the quality grape in a bottle was just amazing and inspirational. A true wine connoisseur. Apart from that, I turned up at 7pm on the dot, and naturally the party was only getting started. Kate was most welcoming, and ensured that everyone started to converse with people they did not know. In my case, that was everyone.
All in all, 35 people showed up to last nights wine event (or should I rather say party), and we were welcomed with a glass of Pinot Gris. Not much of a white wine drinker, I thought I'd give it a try. Quite a mellow, soft wine from the Adelaide Hills district. A beautiful pear exuberance shined. Later on in the evening I learned that Kate studied wine related degrees in Adelaide. Is a Sydneysider by heart, although she did live in wine loving Adelaide for a time. It really shows.
The labne cheese for starters, and with quizzes to answer.
People from all over Sydney came to this event. The group of people I was sitting with live in the North Shore, and one of them just flew back from the Philippines to be at this event. Their passion for wine and good food shows. We were sharing tips on the coolest places to eat out in Sydney. Wow, Sydney, we're a discerning and switched on bunch when it comes to our food.
To accompany another glass of Pinto Gris, Zigi's signature cheese dish - the Labne arrived on our tables. We were all so hungry, this dish was wiped up in a flash. This cheese seems to be heavy, yet it enjoys a smooth, creamy texture. Divine.
The event started at 7pm, and already it is 8pm at this stage. One dish and one wine. We were promised five. Things were a little slow going at first. No different to a plane taking off from the runway for the first time.
Now it was time to try a 2011 Grenache. Kate now tells us the differences between the 2010 and 2011 versions, and as I was so drunk with happiness (not yet literally until the lovely red came out of hiding) I forgot these key distinctions. All good. Zigi's signature dish now arrives on our table: Felafel Prawns with labne mousse and pomegranates. In the meantime there were two quizzes thrown at us. Pride under pressure. Australiana based questions (as this particular event occurred on the eve of Australia Day) were asked such as when our national anthem became official, to which city is known as the second largest city in New South Wales. Some people (just for fun) put down some really funny answers. Zigi made an appearance, and he was off kitchen duty. No chefs uniform. He is wearing a tux. I noticed him giggle, chat to us and drink a couple of glasses of red with us as well. He knows how to have heaps of fun, and is a great chef.
The main bar
The prawns were fresh, and we were also given a few extra plain felafel pieces to enjoy. It wasn't dry. Just right and perfect.
Now I am getting excited because the red is now coming out, and so is the food. Now we're getting full. Some chicken came out. It would have been wonderful if we were all given a knife to use to cut the chicken on our plates, as the chicken pieces were not canape, bite sized pieces. Quite decent size wise.
Another great dish
Thank you, the red wine now comes out. It was all comprising of different shiraz blends. Top up heaven, and to the point where Kate knew how much our entire table loved the red variety - she left an entire bottle on our table for all of us to enjoy.
This is when we all started to get a bit noisy and stupid, yet controlled. Granted, none of us were fit to drive home in this state. People were saying to me "lucky you're catching the train home," as to what felt like a miracle. Yes, I made it back to Central station and home in one piece.
Some lamb now comes out, with some cous cous and tomatoes. I found the cous cous really chewy with an interesting texture in my mouth. Loved the tomatoes, and the lamb was just beautiful. A few pieces did not make the plate...being drunk with happiness and all of that.
Some beautiful cheese pieces with raisins, figs and cranberries was the final dish. Perfect with red wine. We did have some water too. Zigi used a few old tequila bottles for the water, and was joking to us saying "Here's your tequila." Fits of laughter made way for an amazing night with amazing food, wine and awesome company with fellow food lovers.
Excellent value for money. $50 represents such good value. Zigi was fairly generous (after the first hour) with the food, and Kate was generous with the wines. The event was scheduled to start at 7pm, and finish at 9pm. Yes folks, it is 10:30pm, and we're only starting to leave. It was after 10pm, and then Kate starts talking to our table about sulfur in wine. Sydney Food Lovers, it is interesting to note that there is more sulfur dioxide in champagne than there is in wine, and that there is more sulfur in white wines than there is in red. Kate also goes on to mention that the sulfur stops the wines from oxidising.
Great food and great wine. These monthly events that Zigi puts on are amazing and entertaining. He is planning on running a chocolate and wine night in April...hmmm...maybe to coincide with Easter. Sydney Food Lovers will keep you informed.
There was a lucky door prize too. Found under our table. Sadly we did not win, yet someone else at my table won two bottles of wine in the first quiz.
Conversations about wine flowed, where once upon a time we used to keep wine and let it mature. Now wine is available for immediate consumption, although my wine connoisseur neighbour last night said that it is still better to keep wine for as long as you can and let it mature. True, yet gone are the days where wine racks are seen in many Australian households.
All good things must come to an end, and in true Zigi fashion, he said to us "You rock." Zigi, it was also great to see you making a cocktail behind the bar. Till next month at Zigi's.
These cheese finale
Justine would love to thank ZIGI's Art Wine and Cheese Bar, Willunga 100 Wines and Sydney Food Lovers for this special writer invitation.
Outside ZIGI's. Walked in while it was light, and left in the dark.
Where: 86 Abercrombie Street (enter from Teggs Lane) Chippendale NSW.
Why: Great food and awesome service. These monthly events that Zigi puts on do indeed rock.
Cost: Monthly events are $50 per head.
When: Usually on a Saturday night once a month, otherwise it is great to come to ZIGI's for dinner on a Saturday night.