Category Archives: Food and Wine

Dat Fuckrant

I mean, Fat Duckrant.

I’m angry, dear reader.

Nope, I’m beyond angry. I’m furious.

I haven’t been this enraged since “Firefly” was axed. *mutters* Fucking Fox Network suits.

Why am I furious?

I didn’t win the ballot to secure a reservation at the “The Fat Duck” pop-up restaurant in Melbourne in 2015. I had over 20 entries into the ballot via family/friends/employees.

I feel like saying, “But, do you know who I am?!”

(Sorry, I have to run off on a small tangent, because that “Do you know who I am?” remark reminded of the brilliant Eddie Izzard “Death Star Canteen” piece that was recreated using Lego characters. I could watch this over and over for hours. I won’t. But I could, if I wanted to…)

But Gaz, I still don’t understand why are you so upset?

I know Heston. I love his work. We’ve gone to some of the same events together (see section 9 here: I’ve dined at The Fat Duck in Berkshire, UK on several occasions, and I was excited to see the new creations he would be introducing in Melbourne.


Now in fairness, I know Heston didn’t personally review all 89,000 booking requests as part of the ballot. If he had, I’d be on the fucking list.

And I realise it was an automated ballot system. But that doesn’t make me any happier. I want my fucking Golden Ticket(s), Wonka!

So where to from here?

Hunger strike? Fuck no. A hunger strike to get a reservation at a restaurant is like fucking for virginity, or fighting for peace.

Now my only option is to secure a place on the “Waiting List”. The fucking waiting list. Is there anything worse? Fine, I know you’re going to say “What about the Holocaust”? Well this is a close second.

Failing that, I need to find out which one of my dear acquaintances did chance upon a reservation in the ballot and politely grovel for a seat at their booking. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I hate the notion of even contemplating that.

I hate owing people. *shudders at the thought*

Gareth Edwards and the Court of Master Sommeliers

Sounds like a Harry Potter novel.

But in actual fact it is my next, and what I feel, the greatest challenge. One that I expect to take between 5 to 10 years to achieve.

“What?” I hear you ask, “Are you heading off to Hogwarts?”

No, dear reader. It is nothing as simple as that.

I have a goal to become a Master Sommelier. It’s known as the toughest test in the world – it’s easier to become a brain surgeon. Check out the movie “Somm”, to understand what a Master Sommelier is if you are too lazy to continue reading.



I don’t actually intend to be employed as a Sommelier, this is simply a challenge I’ve set for myself, in line with my love and appreciation of fine wine. A bucket list item, if you will. Or perhaps a “spittoon list”, so as to keep on trend.


The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to “encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants”. Since 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers has been widely regarded as the premier international examining body.

There are four examination stages to attain the top qualifications of Master Sommelier:

  • Level I is the Introductory Course and Exam
  • Level II is the Certified Sommelier Exam
  • Level III is the Advanced Sommelier Course and Exam.
  • Level IV is the pièce de résistance – The Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.

Each level must be successfully completed before attempting the next. Since 1977, only 219 candidates have earned the Master Sommelier Diploma. I intend to be number 250-ish. I believe there are fewer than 5 that were born in Australia. I would very much like to be a “single digit”.

The final Master Sommelier Diploma exam is broken down into three main sections: Theory, Service and Blind Tasting.

You might pass the first two, only to stumble on the third, which means returning a year later to be re-tested on the missed section. You have three years to pass all three parts. If you don’t succeed within three years you have to start over again with all three sections. Apparently you need to achieve 75% or higher to pass each section. Where I will likely struggle, is the service component, ostensibly due to my well-known, and well-held hatred of people. The Court of Master Sommelier’s mantra is “Integrity, Hospitality, Humility”. If I can fake that, I’ll be sitting pretty…

I know you’re thinking to yourself “surely this can’t be too hard”. I assure you, it is no walk in the park.

In terms of theory, it’s not just enough to know every wine region, village and district in the world. You also need to know which years were better than others for each region. The blind tasting of six wines requires not only identifying the grape varietal, but the region it came from and the year it was made. So basically, you need to know 400,000+ wines by TASTE and SMELL! During the service portion you also have to recall facts about sake, spirits, distilling methods, aperitifs – and of course ideal food pairings.

While this may sound daunting to your average punter, I really dig this shit, so I am confident I will enjoy the study component. While “hitting the books” is a common study term, it is rare in academic circles to sanction “hitting the bottle”. I look forward to undertaking extensive field work, although I may need to carry a Dictaphone with me at all times and make observations as I go, because I daresay there is a high chance that any key learnings could easily be lost in a post-study stupor.

I also relish the chance to own a tastevin – a “tasse de dégustation”, or “tasting cup” if you will.



I may never use it, but it will allow me to reach Level 7 Nerd. I intend to wear it on a silver chain around my neck, Snoop Doggy-style. Wait. That didn’t come out quite right…

Until then good people, I welcome the opportunity for you to join me as study buddies. Only one caveat.

Must like wine.

10 Reasons This Planet is Fucking Awesome!

Look, I ripped into you a little bit in my previous post, Earth. Sorry buddy. You’ve actually been pretty good to me, on the whole.

So to be fair, and impartial, I think it is best to present the counter argument. Earth is a pretty fucking cool place.

Here are a few reasons this planet is fucking awesome.



Technology makes my life complete.

It is my work. It is my play. It is my night. It is my day. Look, it even inspires me to be a shitty poet.

With the internet and smartphones, we now have the world at our fingertips. Time spent seated on the porcelain throne has never been more productive.

I am however, sad to report that the Time Machine will never be invented. Someone would have come back to let me know by now, surely.

That being said, we’ve come a long way, and rapidly. Every year, things get faster, have greater capacity and are more efficient – while also getting smaller.



Here’s a fun fluff piece about how today’s smartphone packs in all the technology (and more) offered in a full-page Radio Shack ad from the early 90’s.

These technology advancements in the last 40 years or so, have rapidly increased globalisation. It has changed the way the world operates, which for my industry – gaming – has revolutionised the way we interact. You can sit at the virtual felt across from a laggy Scandy, a mad Russian (most likely several, mad Russians), a handful of crazy Asians and a rock from Gibraltar.

With respect to globalisation, how long until we have a global currency? 50 years? 100 years? Or do we already have it in a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin?

And how long until we have a global language? It is likely to be English. But how soon until it happens? Could it be Esperanto? It’s now the 64th language feature in Google Translate… and it could solve the whole O-U-G-H (through, tough, bough, cough, dough, thorough, ought) torment we inflict on all ESL’s. Actually, the truth is that we can pronounce the combination “ough” in at least eight different ways. “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.” No wonder everyone hates the English.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah. Technology. Get on it.



Seriously, Legolas?  For an elf with such perfect vision, how could you possibly let go of such a perfect vision?!

Such a shame too, I always thought they had the perfect hyphenated surname.  Kerr-Bloom!

But kudos to Orlando for recently taking a swing at Bieber as a result of innuendo over the lovely Ms Kerr.  Damn I hate that kid.






Scott Neeson.

The former Hollywood Executive’s eyes were opened to the abject poverty and helplessness of post-war Cambodia during a trip to visit Angkor Wat in 2003. He was on a mini-sabbatical between leaving his post as president of 20th Century Fox International and starting at Sony Pictures when he visited the sprawling landfill of Steung Meanchey, a poor shantytown in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Neeson saw a girl, dressed in rags, picking through syringes and broken glass. Her name, he learned through an interpreter, was Srey Nich. She was 9 and lived in the dump with her mother and younger sister. There they collected scrap that could be recycled, and they sold it to buy food. “How could anyone survive here?” Neeson recalls thinking. “I couldn’t look away.” He was shocked by what he saw, and pledged to return.


His epiphany came in June 2004. He had returned to the dump, true to his word, when he got a call on his mobile phone. It was an agent whose movie star client was having a meltdown before boarding his private jet because it apparently wasn’t properly stocked with his favourite amenities. According to Neeson, he overhead the actor in the background ranting, “My life wasn’t meant to be this difficult!”

Neeson was standing ankle-deep in trash, trying to help children sick with typhoid at the time. “The child I was holding was extremely sick, and here’s this movie star yelling about how difficult life was,” says Neeson. “If I needed a sign, that was it.”

So the Hollywood executive, who oversaw films such as Titanic and Braveheart, gave up his million dollar salary, sold his house, his possessions, his Porsche and his yacht and moved to Cambodia to start a children’s charity, the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

Cambodian Children’s Fund provides life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children from some of Cambodia’s most destitute communities. Today they care for more than 2,000 students and 10,000 people annually after extending their services to provide to entire families and communities in crisis.

Check it out – brilliant stuff. Maybe throw them a donation. Or two.





Oh how I love thee.


No, not you, Merlot, sit the fuck down.

My thanks to the ancients, for stumbling upon the virtues of fermented grapes – reputedly as early as 6,000 BC. Apparently they observed birds getting giddy on the fermenting fruit, and tried it for a lark (pardon the pun). Well met, my tipsy Stone Age friends.

And even more thanks go out to the Romans for refining the craft. Renowned Roman reporter of the time, Gaius Plinius Secundus – better known as Pliny the Elder – wrote in 70BC “In Vino Veritas”. “In wine, there is truth”.   I have to agree with ol’ Pliny. Although it can be a bit too truthful at times, as I have discovered the following day after a few too many glasses of truth serum the night before.

But even that Jesus fellow reportedly turned water into wine. What really bugs me is not that his secret died with him, but that when he was resurrected, no one thought to ask him how he did it. You had forty days, you nincompoops! He broke bread with you. He took a walk in the countryside with you. Heck, he even went fishing with you. And yet no one thought to ask?! Sigh. I blame you, Doubting Thomas. Then again, Jesus may just have been a bit closed-shop. You don’t become the world’s most famous magician of all time, if you give away the secrets to all of your tricks…

What is truly wonderful about wine, is that it gets better with age, as does its value. The same cannot be said about the items slowly congealing in my vegetable crisper.

In fact in 2010, divers exploring the wreck of a schooner sunk in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden discovered a total of 162 bottles of champagne, mostly intact. The bottles were dated from between 1825 and 1830. Of these 162 bottles, 79 were still drinkable, preserved as a result of the horizontal way they landed, and the cold Baltic waters.

In 2011, one of the shipwreck bottles, a rare Veuve Clicquot Champagne was auctioned for €30,000. What is remarkable about these bottles, is that they were actually produced under the watchful tutelage of the famous widow, Madame Clicquot herself (veuve meaning widow in French, and from whence the name change originated. It was simply Clicquot Champagne before that).

Madame Clicquot. What a handsome, handsome woman…


Did you also know it was safer to drink wine during the Black Plague than water? Me neither, but I’ll drink to that *clink*. Here’s to avoiding the plague.

And next year marks 50 years since South Australia invented boxed wine.   Maybe that’s not so much of a brag, but it is an interesting fact. No you’re right. It’s neither.

Where was I? Oh yeah, stay outta my booze!




I fucking love Science! Seriously, you should “Like” that page on Facebook. It’s hilarious. And you learn stuff.

Man has always had a thirst for knowledge. From Galileo the astronomer and physicist who inspired Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, to Brian May the guitarist for Queen who is also an astrophysicist.

Hats off to all the daddies. From Hipprocrates, Father of Medicine; to Aristotle, Father of Biology; to John Kerr, Father of Miranda.

I can’t forget the mums either, from Marie Curie, Mother of Nuclear Science; to Florence Nightingale, Mother of Nursing; to Therese Kerr, for previously mentioned reasons.

Big shout out also to Charles Babbage, Father of the Computer. Babbage was the inventor of an early computer known as the “Difference Engine”, which was never fully constructed in his lifetime. Amazingly in 1991, a perfectly functioning Difference Engine was constructed from Babbage’s original plans. The success of the finished engine indicated that Babbage’s machine would have worked. Just think, if only people had backed Babbage on Kickstarter, Gavrilo Princip might have been so stuck on Level 147 of Candy Crush that he wouldn’t have looked up when Franz Ferdinand took that wrong turn, sparing us that whole, nasty First World War. Indeed Ferdinand’s driver probably wouldn’t have gotten lost in the first place if he’d had access to a reliable NavMan…

Kudos too to Pythagoras for introducing us to the wonder of triangles, to Archimedes for his revolutionary bath work, and to Pavlov, Schrodinger and Isaac Newton for their excellent work with household pets. What?!

“Sir Isaac Newton, renowned inventor of the milled-edge coin and the catflap!”

“The what?” said Richard.

“The catflap! A device of the utmost cunning, perspicuity and invention. It is a door within a door, you see, a …”

“Yes,” said Richard, “there was also the small matter of gravity.”

“Gravity,” said Dirk with a slightly dismissed shrug, “yes, there was that as well, I suppose. Though that, of course, was merely a discovery. It was there to be discovered… You see?” he said dropping his cigarette butt, “They even keep it on at weekends. Someone was bound to notice sooner or later. But the catflap … ah, there is a very different matter. Invention, pure creative invention. It is a door within a door, you see.”

― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

To the Renaissance men, from Copernicus who showed us we weren’t the centre of the universe (are you listening Biebs?), to Da Vinci’s helicopter (and he painted a bit too, I hear?), to Paracelsus, who is remembered for his advancements to medicine – but who should really be best known for introducing the word “bombastic” to the vernacular. Shaggy, I think you owe Paracelsus some royalties…

 To the early 20th Century geniuses, from the glowing Marie Curie, to Einstein – the unwittingly, indirect destroyer of Hiroshima, to the brilliant and oft under-recognised Nikola Tesla who ultimately brought us WiFi and electricity. Bless you Mr Tesla – *sniff* – bless you.

Incidentally, I love this photo below, taken at the Solvay Conference in 1927. It is basically a compilation of the “rockstar” minds of the time. I’d like to think Schrodinger was gazing distractedly off to the side because he thought he glimpsed his cat. I’d also like to think that Planck and Lorentz had a full head of hair before sitting next to Marie Curie. Should have worn your lead hats, fellas…


What is also wonderful about science, is that it explains *factually* how we got here.  Thank you to Mr Darwin for introducing us to evolution (although technically thanks should go to Alfred Wallace for first conceptualising it).

“The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it’s yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we’re not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It just doesn’t read well.”  Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt


But I think the Hickey brothers from “My name is Earl” put it best:

Randy Hickey:                      Did you know that before we were humans we were monkeys?

Earl Hickey:                            Really? What were we before monkeys?

Randy Hickey:                      I don’t know. I can’t even remember being a monkey.

 Thanks finally to the modern day scientists who keep science in popular culture, from frequent Guest Star of the Simpsons – Stephen Hawking, to “We got a Badass” Neil deGrasse Tyson, to those well-paid, but loveable scienticians in that documentary series, The Big Bang Theory.


“If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.” ― Penn Jillette, God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales

“The good thing about science, is it’s true whether or not you believe in it” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Thanks Neil. You truly are a badass.



I haven’t read the books, so I can only speak for the show, but for a TV program to have the following interchange, proves to me that this planet is alllll-right.

The Hound:                            Of course you named your sword.

Arya:                                          Lots of people name their swords.

The Hound:                            Lots of cunts.

Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart? Even the subcockles?

A slew of complex characters. Witty scriptwriting. Numerous interwoven subplots. Subterfuge and deception. Surprises aplenty. I simply can’t get enough of it.





I love irony.  Particularly of the paradoxical, incongruous kind.  For example:


But again, I shall defer to those who can articulate better than I can. Watch as Irish comedian Ed Byrne goes to town on Alanis Morissette’s ironically named ditty, “Ironic”. In fact, a more ironic song, in light of recent nuptials, would be Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”…

To quote Ed Byrne, “That’s not ironic. That’s *unfortunate*”.

Ironically, at the risk of contradicting my previous post, where “People” were one of the reasons I don’t want to live on this fucking planet anymore, I must attach a codicil. I admit to loving gullible people, as they are much more fun to flame, troll, and generally mess with. There are fewer things more enjoyable in life, than poking a bigot with a metaphorical stick.




  • Private “suite” – no armrest wars and wider, more comfortable seats with unlimited legroom, and a dinner table -incase- want to invite guests up from Business Class or Coach!
  • Quality materials and impeccable finishes, larger windows with electronic blinds and a closet for storage
  • Turndown service – seat reclines into a 2 m long fully, flat bed with quilted mattress, crisp white cotton duvet and pillow with complimentary cotton pyjamas – a cosy Gaz, is a happy Gaz
  • Complimentary toiletries – a moisturised Gaz, is a supple Gaz
  • Large screen multi-media entertainment system – an entertained Gaz, is a distracted Gaz
  • Room for laptops and other devices, as well as in-seat power supply for charging said devices – a fully charged Gaz, is an un-tilted Gaz
  • Chef prepared dining – when and how it suits you – a full Gaz, is a contented Gaz
  • Wide selection of quality wine and beverage options – a drunk Gaz, is… well… drunk. But a mighty tipper!
  • Access to the First Class Lounge at either end of your journey with discreet booths, full waiter service, private cabanas and a state-of-the-art business suite

Well there’s not much more I can say. But this picture says it all. Needless to say I never fly Coach.





In 1900, the Michelin Brothers released an automobile touring guide for France, despite there only being 3,000 registered motor vehicles, and the roads that existed being primitive at best.



The Michelin Man. Creeping out small children since 1898. Nice to see Harvey Keitel hasn’t aged a day, however.

The Michelin Star system wasn’t born until 1926, with the creation initially of a single dining star. In 1931 the system was expanded to include the second and third stars.

By 1936, the definition of the stars was established…

One Star:               A very good restaurant in its own category

Two Stars:            Excellent cooking, worth a detour

Three Stars:        Exceptional cuisine, worth a special trip

… and the system hasn’t changed since.

The guide has become so revered that it has the power to make or break a restaurant, and shatter the souls of elite chefs. In fact, Chef Bernard Loiseau shot himself in the head with a hunting rifle after rumours that his restaurant was to be demoted from three-stars to two in 2003. It wasn’t.

Currently, there are 117 – 3 Star Michelin Restaurants in the world. Indeed, you may be surprised to learn that the country with the most 3 Star restaurants is actually Japan, not France.

I’ve had the pleasure of dining at quite a few (actually over half of them including 19 of the top 20), and they are on the whole, quite simply, brilliant.

They range from the small (and frankly bizarre) Sushi Saito, which was housed in a multi-story car park opposite the US Embassy in Tokyo, and seats just 7, to the exceptional, ‘molecular gastronomic’ experience that is Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. I particularly enjoyed the Mock Turtle Soup.


I had the fortune to meet Heston at a celebrity media event, and have had the pleasure of being his guest at The Fat Duck on several occasions since.


What did you say? Pretentious? Moi?!

Snobbiness aside, you should attempt to visit at least one 3 Michelin Star restaurant in your lifetime. You won’t regret it, and it’s a nice one to tick off your bucket list.



Or as they should be known, Les Schtroumpfs.

Whatever you call them, I love those little Commie bastards!


The Grapes of Wrath

BrO_l5NCUAANy-yOkay, okay, so I’m a little bit of a wine snob.

In the same way that Miranda Kerr is a “little bit” of alright.

I constantly travel the world, among elite circles, so I’ve been fortunate to try my hand at many (arguably far too many) a tipple here and there.

That being said, while I am an ultra-mega wine snob, I don’t belittle those who aren’t (well, those who know me will know that I could be stretching a truth a little). For those who aren’t fine wine connoisseurs, I’ve put together some tips for defusing some potentially awkward situations.

Don’t Say “Whatever”

It is great to try new things, but not to be blasé about it. It is better to have an opinion, and appear confident, than to have no opinion at all. When someone asks you what kind of wine you would like, at the very least, pick a colour.

If that is too much pressure, simply turn it back on the asker with “what would you suggest?”

You’ll likely get to try something you’ve never tried before. And if you like it, keep it in the memory bank for next time. Baby steps, my little wine noob. Baby steps.

Don’t Guess, if guessing is all you have

If someone at a wine tasting or cellar door asks you “Can you guess what grape this is?” – tread carefully.   And whatever you do, do not say “Bordeaux”? Bordeaux is a prolific (and important) wine region in Southwest France, not a grape variety.

And if you don’t know the colour of a wine based upon the grape name, do not partake in this guessing game at all. You’ll be a 50/50 chance of only getting the colour right.   A Pinot Noir is red. A Pino Grigio is white. It’s a slippery slope for the uninitiated.

I find it is often best to display a very slight, knowing smile and say nothing at all, waiting for others to play along first.

If put to task, I would then aim to distract. After ostentatiously sniffing and tasting the wine, simply say “ambitious, but never haughty.” If anyone is brave enough to ask you what you mean, glare at them with withering disdain and say nothing further. If pressed, utter a small “hurrumph” and start muttering about pigeons. Better to appear senile, than inept.

Don’t ramble

When someone asks what you think about a particular wine, quite often they are expecting a flowery answer, and one which really cannot be provided without extensive knowledge and experience.

Play it safe, and make deliberately vague, generic comments that you can easily get away with, like “robust”, or “smooth” or simply “good structure”. If all else fails, just say “I don’t know how to describe it, but I like it”.

Do not, under any circumstance, start suggesting which side of the slope the grapes were grown upon, or you’ll look like a pompous git.

Often times, it is simply more fun, and more endearing to your fellow guests, to make light, by peering at your wine with a raised eyebrow, and saying something like “hmmm… it does have an oaky afterbirth”.

Don’t be Grape-cist

Don’t be that guy who says “I only drink Red”. Or “I only drink White”. This is an immediate red flag to any discerning wine buff who is looking to sniff out a novice. Instead, if you truly do hate red wine, come up with a good reason, like “I just had my teeth whitened, so I’d prefer to stick with white tonight”.  Realise also that no two reds or whites are alike. It’s time to put those long-held grudges behind you and pick up a bottle of “the other colour” again. You will likely be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t sniff the cork

Many are aware of the phenomena known as “corking”. In a nutshell, “corked wine” is one that has developed a flaw caused by contamination from a chemical compound contained in cork called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, or TCA for short. This is also known as cork taint. The reality is, a cork can be tainted, without the wine being tainted. If the wine is tainted, the wine itself will smell tainted. I assure you, you do not want to reject, or discard an expensive, vintage bottle of plonk based upon a cork sniff. And if you sniff a metal twist-off cap (or a cork-free cork), you are guaranteed to look like a twat.

Don’t overdo it

When a sommelier or a waiter proffers you a small sample before pouring for others, adhere to the ritual, but don’t overdo it. Let me cut to the chase here. The purpose of this ritual is not to determine whether you like the wine, it is solely to determine whether it has been tainted (see above). Do not ask to sniff the cork (see above). Do not over-swirl.   Do not over-sniff. And do not even taste it unless you suspect it might be tainted and you need to know for sure. And you will know then, I assure you.

Instead simply give the wine a quick couple of swirls. Have a quick sniff. And give the sommelier a brief, casual nod. This should take no more than 5 seconds.

Do not lean back in your chair, and make a big song and dance over it, swirling and sniffing and sampling, or else the sommelier will know you are full of shit – and the crafty ones may even seek to trip you up on something else later. It’s not worth the risk. Again, if it is a twist cap, just wave away the entire exercise, and simply tell them to “pour away, my good fellow/lady”.

Don’t imitate Hannibal Lecter every time Chianti is ordered

Maybe one day it will be hip and retro to throw out a Lecter impression. This is not yet that time. Right now, it is still a little bit try-hard. Wait until Silence of the Lambs is a true cult classic. Safe to safe that will be in around 2031. Make a note in your calendar for the year 2025 to start cellaring a nice Chianti Classico in anticipation.  Chances are no-one in the room will get the joke, but oh how you’ll giggle to yourself.

*Note, it is however perfectly acceptable to throw the quote out, whenever you are offered Fava Beans…

Don’t say you prefer a “dry”’ red

Why? I know that you mean to say that you prefer a wine that is less sweet.   The problem is, almost all reds are dry, by design. That means that the sugar has been fermented into alcohol. The sensation of sweetness in red wine is caused by the presence of super-ripe fruit, which tricks your palate into thinking “sweet”. Instead, say that you prefer reds that are “less fruity in style”, like your good self.

The Sideways “Fucking Merlot” Caveat

Don’t hate on fucking Merlot because Paul Giamatti told you so in “Sideways”. Hate on fucking Merlot because it tastes like the fucking Merlot grape has drunk its own pee, after eating a bowl of asparagus soup, just before it was sent to the crusher. It is a varietal meant for blending, and blending only. So don’t go all “Sideways” because a wine contains a blend of Merlot.   But if it’s a straight up fucking Merlot, all gloves are off.

Don’t fear the wine list

They can be lengthy. They can (often) be written in foreign languages. But don’t let that hold you back.

If all else fails, ask your waiter for a recommendation, along the lines of “I’m having the duck, and my friend/spouse/bit-on-the-side is having the Mahi Mahi, what would you recommend to best accompany them?”

If all else fails, select the second or third least-expensive bottle in your grape of choice. But never say “I’ll have a bottle of your second cheapest wine, thanks!”, or you will have foregone all of your previous hard work.

Don’t get into Bubble Trouble

This is another slippery slope. Most wine noobs are at least aware that Champagne is not an arbitrary term for all sparkling wines. If you make this mistake in the presence of anyone who works in the beverage industry, you’ll likely get the age-old lecture that unless the bubbly was made in Champagne (a region in the Northeast of France), it ain’t Champers – it’s sparkling wine. Best to play it safe, and simply talk about the “bubbly” or the “sparkling”.

Dealing with the Arsehole Wine Snob

Aka, the Wine Snoot. A Wine Snoot tends to make the subject of wine appear to be more complicated, more difficult, and more mysterious than it needs to be. Granted, there is an awful lot that can be learned about wine, but the basics one needs to learn in order to improve their appreciation of wine really aren’t that difficult. Wine isn’t rocket science and no one needs to be made to feel stupid around wine by someone making it out to be more complicated than it really is.

All in all, good readers, drinking wine should be enjoyable. There are no firm and fast rules. Wine enjoyment is highly subjective. And it’s truly a personal experience.

So if some over-pompous tosspot starts ruining your experience, wait for them to describe a wine, smile and while shaking your head discouragingly say “no, no, no, that’s not what you’re tasting at all”. And then turn away, and never speak to him again.

And if all else fails, pilfer his car keys and flush them down the toilet.

It’s not easy being green…

As part of a corporate health and wellness push by a company I am Vice Chairman of, all senior management recently agreed to partake in a swag of healthy lifestyle initiatives.

First part of the initiative is a 7-day “Green Vegetable Detox”, where literally all you are permitted to eat is green vegetables.  You’re also allowed to drink water, and a supplement that tastes like dirt that’s been diffused through a hobo’s sock, but that’s it.

No fruit.  No bread.  No animal proteins.  No alcohol.  No caffeine.  No dairy.  No nuthin’.

I ask if avocado is allowed, and am told it is a fruit.  While that may technically be true, I think the test for a fruit should be whether or not you’d put it in a fruit salad.

In hindsight, I think the psychopath who came up with this diet would have felt right at home as one of Mengele’s assistants.

But I digress.  As most of you who know me will attest, I’ll pretty much give anything a go.  So for my sins, I agree to participate (and truthfully, because this is the environment and motivation needed to start to lose weight).

Here is a diary of my progress.

Day 1:

“Ok”, I thought to myself, “how hard can this be?”  I actually love broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas – they’re amongst my favourite foods.  But usually they are an accompaniment, not as a standalone meal.  In fact, whenever people say they hate Brussels sprouts, my response is the same as when people tell me they don’t enjoy sex – I pat them gently on the shoulder, console them and say “Perhaps you’re not doing it right”.  They are fantastic sautéed with bacon, olive oil, garlic, shallots and a sprinkling of vegetable stock powder.  Admittedly, the rules do not allow bacon, oil, vegetable stock, garlic or shallots, but regardless, I nip to the grocer and pick up a bag each of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas.

Meal #1:    I steam some broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas.   I see why people might hate Brussels sprouts if they can’t be pimped out with something else, but I chow my way through it without too much drama.  “This won’t be so bad”, I tell myself.  “You’re a deluded twat”, I later tell myself.

Meal #2:    Since it’s all I have, I prepare another meal of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas.  This time, it’s a little tougher to get through, but I plough on.

Meal #3:    Aaaand it is broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas again.  I’m starting to regret starting this diet with my three favourites, as they are now rapidly plummeting down the hierarchy.

I go to bed and drift into a fitful sleep, my head spinning as my mind tries to conjure up a list of tasty, alternative green vegetables, but am constantly interrupted by a dancing hamburger.

Day 2:

Meal #4:  I awake tired.  I crave coffee.  I can’t have coffee.  I dabble with the idea of breaking my detox and having a coffee.  I slap myself (*metaphorically) for being so weak, and prepare myself a succulent (*emphasis on the suck) meal of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas.  It is tough going.  At the conclusion of the meal, I walk to the fridge, fetch the remaining broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas, toss them down the garbage chute and head out to the grocery shop in search of greenspiration.

I am surprised at just how few green vegetables there are.  There is little that satisfies my restrictive colour palate, while satisfying my other palate.  I cannot have spinach, as I am allergic (the power of Popeye evades me) so end up buying up bagfuls of anything green, but mostly just replacement broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas.  Seriously, chard?  What the fuck is chard?

Meal #5:  I dabble with steamed zucchini and blanched asparagus, but discontinue with the asparagus because it makes my pee smell foetid.

The acclaimed auteur, Marcel Proust once said “asparagus transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume.”  Proust, you’re a fucking idiot.  I can’t see anyone clambering to buy Eau de Asparagus Toilette.

Meal #6:  I spend 10 minutes standing at the open door of my fridge.  I end up grabbing a bunch of celery, and mindlessly chomp on it in front of the television.  First thing I realise is just how many adverts there are, for things more tasty and satisfying than celery.

Have you ever noticed, that when you decide to upgrade your TV, advertisers suddenly appear to have read your mind, because all of the sudden you are receiving pamphlets in the mail for new TVs, there are signs on bus stops spruiking new TV’s and every second ad on TV is for a new TV?  How did they know?

It is stereotypical of the world of advertising, that in mainstream media, the mass-saturation, shotgun approach to marketing is the oft preferred model, hoping to capitalise by catching you at an opportune moment of need.

The same applies to food.  You just don’t notice how many ads for food are out there until you are starving.  In two hours I count 5 pizza ads, 3 KFC ads, 2 McDonalds ads, and a plethora of ads for junk food and snacks of one variety or another.

I note that not one ad was for green vegetables, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot convince my tastebuds that the stick of celery I am munching on, is really a beef and bean burrito.

I trundle off to bed.  Sleep is difficult, but I must have drifted off, as I later awake with a start, at the realisation that a bear had wandered into my bedroom.  I quickly realise the growling is simply my stomach.  It is difficult to sleep amidst all the racket, so I spend a couple of hours distracting myself with Candy Crush.  Candy… *drools* argl argl argl arghh.

Day 3:

Meal #7:  All vegetables and no coffee (or whiskey) makes Gaz a dull boy.  But we welcome broccoli, Brussels sprouts and snow peas back into the fray.  Must.  Resist.  Urge.  To kill.

Meal #8:  This time, I spend 20 minutes in front of the fridge.  I end up making a salad of rocket, cucumber and mint, and try to convince myself I’m the culinary equivalent of Thomas Edison.  Turns out Edison couldn’t cook to save himself, but it is a welcome, albeit unsatisfying, break from Brussels sprouts, broccoli and snow peas.

Meal #9:  Shit is getting real.  Really real.  I am tired.  I am hungry.  I am on edge.  I am on the edge.   I find myself drooling over a wilted carrot in my vegetable crisper.  However I do not yield to wiles of the orange temptress, and throw together a hearty platter of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and some green beans, just to shake things up.

I once again try to sleep, but headaches, hunger and homicidal tendencies rule the night.  Once I do doze off, I dream I am a broccoli farmer.  Endless, endless rows of broccoli.

I am told days 3 and 4 are the toughest, but I honestly can’t see things improving.  I’m just halfway there, but I am more than halfway out of my mind.

Day 4:


Stay tuned for further updates, assuming of course I do not yield to the overwhelming temptation to kill.  Actually, if anyone is competing in a “Dead Pool” hit me up with your list.  If I’m going to go postal, it is always good to have a purposeful target.  So watch your back, Putin.