Tag Archives: Australia

Best’s Dinner at Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro was the BEST!

Best’s Dinner at Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro was the BEST!

My dear friend and unofficially adopted daughter, Kajsa, who is a chef, caterer (Taylor Made Events Catering) and foodie extraordinaire, heard about an event that she invited me to attend with her this past Wednesday. I am SO glad she did and let me tell you why!

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro, one of my favourite downtown restaurants and wine bars, conveniently located on Stephen Avenue, has been a Calgary favourite for over 15 years. It is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts‘ family of restaurants and offers a comfortable bistro atmosphere, excellent cuisine prepared under the direction of chef John Donovan, an award-winning international cheese selection, and a superb wine list.

Upstairs at Divino's (photo from Divino's website)

Upstairs at Divino’s (photo from Divino’s website)

The event that Kajsa invited me to was Best’s Great Western Wine Dinner, presented by Richmond Hill Wines, a specialty wine importer and wine shop located in south west Calgary (my former neighbourhood). As one of the oldest independent wine stores in Alberta, Richmond Hill Wines has a tremendous reputation for carrying great wines, especially those from Australia.

Best's Great Western Wines (photo from Best's)

Best’s Great Western Wines (photo from Best’s)

Wednesday night’s wine dinner featured the wines of Best’s Great Western from Victoria, Australia, and were presented by Jonathan Mogg, General Manager of Sales and Marketing from Best’s. This year, 2016, marks the 150th anniversary of one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries (the fifth generation of the Thomson family now runs the business) and oldest vines in the country. To commemorate this extraordinary milestone, Best’s is celebrating with various tastings and dinner events around Australia and North America, of which we were able to attend the special event hosted at Divino in Calgary.

Wine Director for the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts and AIWS (Associate of the Institute of Wine and Spirits) Sommelier, Brad Royale, paired the food from Divino with an outstanding assortment of Best’s wines for our enjoyment. He supervised and orchestrated the entire evening’s event, introduced each dish as it was presented, and provided his own insightful tasting notes to highlight the food and wine that was served. Here was their outstanding menu and pairing:

Heirloom Tomatoes (with Fior di Latte, Baby Fall Greens, White Balsamic & Honey Vinaigrette) served with Best’s Great Western Reisling 2014

Duck Leg Confit

Duck Leg Confit

Rogue Farms Duck Leg Confit (with Poached Santa Rosa Plums) served with Best’s Great Western Ancient Vines Pinot Meunier 2010

Lamb Shank

Lamb Shank

Slow Braised Lamb Shank (with Potato Gnocchi, Braised Cipolini Onions) served with Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz 2012 and Best’s Great Western Chardonnay 2012

Cheese Cake

Cheese Cake

Cheese Cake (Thornloe Ontario Blue Cheese, Wild Saskatoon Berries) served with Best’s Great Western Sparking Shiraz Late Disgorged 2011

The food prepared by chef John Donovan and his team, the service, and the wine served throughout the evening, were nothing short of superb! I highly recommend Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro for a casual drink, lunch or dinner at any time, but particularly special events like this, Best’s 150th Anniversary Dinner.

My guy, Ron, and I have talked for a long time about attending the Australian Open, but Best’s have given me just one more brilliant reason to travel to Melbourne and explore the wines “down under”!  If you can’t get to Melbourne in the near future, I highly recommend that you check out the selection of Best’s Wines at Richmond Hill Wines. These wines really are some of the “best” Australia has to offer!

Malarrimo in Guerrero Negro

Whenever we drive the Baja, we plan on overnighting in a town called Guerrero Negro. We strive to get there, not because it’s a great destination, but because of where it’s situated on the Baja and because of the food that is served in the restaurant at the Malarrimo Hotel. In business since 1974, they have funky rooms with very basic amenities; clean and functional, but the restaurant serves a few dishes that are worth going out of your way for. The waiters have been there forever and seem to be getting slower, heavier and more complacent with every visit, but the food is really delicious. Thankfully their cook hasn’t lost interest and consistently produces memorable meals.

Abalone is very rarely found on menus anywhere and is difficult and dangerous to dive for. We were lucky last night that they were serving fresh catch, so Ron opted for that dish (as he always does when it’s available). My usual go to is a delicious Seafood Soup that is made with a flavourful broth and loaded with fresh fish, scallops, lobster, shrimp, octopus, and clams, and served with a broiled slice of garlic bread, perfect for dunking in the broth. Enjoyed with a glass of northern Baja red wine, this is the perfect meal to wind up a long and arduous day of driving (we left Cabo at 9:30 in the morning and, aside from gas and pee stops, arrived in Guerrero Negro at 8:30 last night).


Guerrero Negro is a company town – the main industry is the salt plant and business owned by the Mitsubishi corporation of Japan. The other industry here is eco-tourism based around the whale migration. Like Santa Rosalia, my least-favourite town on the Baja drive, Guerrero Negro has lots of employment but seems to lack the soul and personality found in other places.

In the restaurant, we asked to see a wine list to see which northern Baja wines they were carrying. Unable to comprehend their poorly prepared listing, we ended up ordering a 2011 Santo Tomás Cabernet Sauvignon, based on the recommendation of the Australian couple we were visiting with, Lindal and Gerry, who were just finishing their meal and the last drops of wine from the bottle they had ordered. We poured them a glass from our bottle and shared some wonderful stories of the Baja, Australia, California, wine and tennis. Ah, the camaraderie of travellers – a grand and glorious thing.


Chile Versus Chili

There are hundreds of varieties of chiles grown throughout the world.  “Chile” is the Spanish spelling of the word, but you’ll see it spelled differently wherever you travel.  For example, in Australia and England the word is often spelled “chilli”.  Other variations are “chilie”, “chillie”, “chilley” and even “chilly” (which to North Americans describes the temperature outside on a cool day!). “Chili” is the name of a cooked dish, such as “chili con carne” or “chili verde” and doesn’t refer to the chiles themselves.