Articles from: November 2011

Mollydooker Wine Pairing Event, Epic Hotel Miami, Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sparky Marquis, owner of MollyDooker Wines (McLaren Vale, Australia-mollydookerwines.com) is living the dream. If that dream includes making exquisite, award-winning wines in one of the most beautiful regions of Australia, being married to your college sweetheart (who is also the mother of two active, smart and funny children) and oh yeah, “employing” your mother as your top ambassador and marketing agent. If that is indeed living the dream, then yes, Sparky Marquis is your proof.

The Blending Begins

The Blending Begins

Sparky and his mother Janet make frequent trips to the United States to host MollyDooker wine pairing/blending events across the country. It offers them both a chance to come to America, see the country and meet scores of adoring wine aficionados nationwide and talk face to face about their passion: wine.

So it came as no surprise that when Sparky and Janet were hosting an event at the gorgeous Epic Hotel in Miami one Saturday, well, it was a given that the Wanderlushes would must attend. We had a chance to be a part of one of his blending events a few years ago in Fort Lauderdale.  We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Sparky and Janet, while learning all about these incredible wines from the winemaker himself.

More Wine!

More Wine!

Second Round of Tasting

Second Round of Tasting

This was a larger event, though, with about 100 guests in attendance. At each table were placemats, along with four “stations” designated for each of the MollyDooker wines to be blended that evening for a personalized version of MollyDooker’s Two Left Feet: The Scooter Merlot, the Maitre D’ Cabernet Sauvignon and the Boxer Shiraz. Each wine is unique and amazing in and of itself. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try these wines, pick one up and enjoy all the subtle nuances and complex flavors a MollyDooker wine imparts.  After a brief introduction and speech from Sparky, the blending commenced. The idea of mixing the wines like mad Bacchanalian scientists is to achieve an altogether new and exciting MollyDooker wine. Couples at each table would blend different percentages of each together in beakers and vote on the results. The couple whose wine garnered the most votes at the table would win a prize. So, we ruminated over what would make the best tasting wine and went to work.  The other couples we were sitting with blended some solid fruit-forward wines, but in the end  our fellow Wanderlushes Jen and Mitch’s blend proved to be the winner. They were each given sporty black MollyDooker baseball caps as the winners!

Dessert

Dessert

The Main Course

The Main Course

After the blending, new wines were laid out and the waiters then brought out plates of food; an entrée of chimichurri steak and au gratin potato made with both white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Both were delicious, but the chimichurri sauce overpowered the wine just a bit. Dessert consisted of a delicious chocolate mousse, which each of us devoured (and which paired remarkably well with the wines.) During the evening Sparky gave a very heartfelt and genuinely moving speech, talking about the austere beginnings of MollyDooker wines and how grateful he was to Americans in general for appreciating his wines. One turnoff, however, was when several wine-soaked attendees insisted on talking loudly during Sparky’s speech.

After dessert Sparky brought out the “Party Wines,” which include the Gigglepot Cabernet Sauvignon; the Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz (our favorite); the Enchanted Path Shiraz/Cabernet; Carnival of Love Shiraz and the Velvet Glove Shiraz. With only one bottle per table, we were all quick to pour…

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

Riverside Market Wine Vs. Beer Event, October 15, 2011

Riverside MarketIf you’re a serious South Florida beer aficionado looking for the next big thing in hop heaven, chances are you’ve stumbled upon the Riverside Market, a small craft beer and food establishment in Fort Lauderdale’s plush, historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood. If you haven’t, then you are truly missing out this unique gem of a beer-drinking joint.

Cheese & Pretzels

Cheese & Homemade Pretzels

The Riverside Market is a throwback to a bygone era, looking more like a local country store or bait shop from the outside. Getting there is like entering a time portal into Fort Lauderdale’s past as you make your way through Sailboat Bend, surrounded by amazing vegetation, passing several small mom and pop stores and crossing over an old turn-style bridge. But once you find the Riverside Market, you will not be disappointed. Owner Julian boasts one of the most eclectic retail beer collections you’ll find anywhere in South Florida. Riverside has gained quite a reputation as a quiet, laid-back place to enjoy a fine craft beer amongst friends and “soon to be friends.” The beer selection is a microcosm of the microbrew world, with many familiar faces and an eclectic array of unfamiliar (yet inviting) ones all sitting quietly behind glass in the Riverside Market’s large refrigerators. What’s even better, if you see a beer you really like, grab it, uncap it (using one of several bottle openers conveniently hanging in several areas of the store) and enjoy. Patrons bring their empties to the front and pay on the way out.

Beer Selections On this particular Saturday night Riverside Market hosted a Beer vs. Wine food-pairing event, pitting  several craft brews and wines against each other for alcohol supremacy (honestly, though, I don’t believe there are any real losers in this battle—except maybe brain cells). Both were paired with several appetizers and small entrees prepared especially for the event.Fish Selection

The pours were quite generous throughout the night. The only real knock we had for the evening was the quality of the food. Which isn’t to say it was bad, really, only that is wasn’t very good (the cheese course looked like it came straight from the Publix Deli, sans plastic tray). A couple of the entrees seemed a bit pedestrian, not just in taste, but in presentation as well. Surprising considering the quality of the food we have previously had at Riverside Market.  Also, the beer choices seemed out of context with the wine and food.  If it was an attempt at offering a glimpse into seasonal craft beers, it only mildly passed the test.  We looked longingly into the coolers containing a myriad of exceptional craft beers wondering why better selections had not been made for the pairing.  It struck us that perhaps the host for the evening,  a local wine distributor,  was not truly a beer fan.

Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream

Pork with Mustard Sauce

Pork with Mustard Sauce

Despite some of our misgivings about the selections, we the Wanderlushes, had a great time at the Riverside Market hanging with fellow beer and wine lovers in one of the most relaxed settings you’ll find – provided you can find it. Let’s hope this hidden gem stays somewhat hidden and unspoiled for as long as possible.

Wanderlushes

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