Friends Of Australia & N.Z Lamburger & Cabernet

It’s once again an Australia Time Friday! It’s FRIDAY!!!!  (Though once again I didn’t post before the wine so now it’s a day late…)

The Tucker

Due to some scheduling issues, I was rushed and on the wrong side of The Valley at the last minute.  Stopped in “Sprouts”, a local Whole Foods Wannabee without the horrible prices, and while getting what I was there to get, saw a package of lamb.  Oh Boy! So I put it in the cart.  They also had whole legs of lamb, but they were running about $50 each (being the whole thing…) so I skipped them.  These were “Spring Lamb” brand.  Never seen it before, but I was in a hurry…

The only Australian wine on the shelf that I could spot in a quick scan was Yellow Tail Cabernet, so that’s the same as last week.

This was made as a simple 1/2 pound “Salisbury Steak” for each of us. No topper or special side this time.  Fried in olive oil.  4 minutes a side on medium in a cast iron skillet.

For sides, we had a simple salad of butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce with Muenster cheese bits.  Take a slice of cheese, cut it into 1 cm x 2 cm bits, dump it on the lettuce.  That was then given a squirt of Caesar Dressing.  Then a broccoli head was cut into chunks, put in a steamer basket and steamed until done.  Most folks go for short and sweet, the spouse likes it more soft, so I did about 8 minutes.  IF it starts to smell a bit sulfur like, you have gone too far.

Now about the time the Lamburger Steak was ready to flip, I finally got around to reading the package closely. Turns out it was from New Zealand, not Australia… So this week we’re having a Kiwi Friday as well ;-) Anyone know if China is trying to screw over New Zealand the same way they are sticking it to Australia? In any case, it was really nice lamb.

The Wine

Repeating last weeks description as this is the same wine:

Nothing particularly spectacular. A very nice Cabernet Sauvignon from Yellow Tail. This is one of the more common wines in the bigger grocery stores. One presumes because they can deliver in volume. It was what they had on the shelf in Smart & Final. $10 for 1.5 L jug.  (Or in this case, $7 for a 750 ml )

Very drinkable but nothing to make it stand out from any other Cab. I’d never turn it down, and the bottle drained fairly quickly, but other than saying “Yeah, nice Cab”, I don’t have much impression of distinction about it. No impression of “chocolate” or “deep fruit” or all those other wine snob terms. More like an Italian table wine. Meant to be enjoyed right now and not fussed over.

It went well with the lamb, and I’d be happy to drink it with anything from a hamburger to Prime Rib, or from Lasagna to Pepperoni Pizza.

Subscribe to feed

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in cooking, Food. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Friends Of Australia & N.Z Lamburger & Cabernet

  1. Chris Morris says:

    No – here in NZ, our government has rolled over and has publicly stated to Australia that it shouldn’t be so hard on China. Lapdog doesn’t even half sum it up. .

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Sorry to hear that. I spent a week in New Zealand (North Island) a few decades back. Absolutely loved the place. At the time there was a young and growing electronics industry. I suppose that’s gone now as I’ve not heard a thing about it for decades.

    Landed at Auckland, drove to Wellington, then back around the other way ;-) Stopping at a volcano / lake somewhere in the middle. Didn’t want to leave, but my job wanted me back. I got the “how to emigrate” packet but never did jump through all the hoops. Now I think I’m too old to be accepted. (Maybe I just need to declare myself a Hispanic Muslim POC Refugee and get off an airplane ;-)

    Oh Well.

    You folks have some very nice wines. The reds can be a bit thin to age a lot (but that makes them very drinkable as bottled) and the whites can be spectacular, especially the German Style that need cold mountains.

    Had a lovely Bordeaux style red with prime rib at a road side restaurant middle of nowhere next to said volcano / lake / hotsprings… Remember it to this day… Small place. Served by the owner. Maybe 3 tables of folks in the place at the time. Absolutely special experience. I walked in, sat down, and said “What wine have you got that’s good with your prime rib special?” and let him choose it. We talked a bit about New Zealand wines too… Never had quite as special a feeling in any restaurant since. I think it was just him and his wife and they did everything. Dining room area was about 10? a dozen? tables. Enough to keep a family going and a foodie able to do what he loved. Natural wood exterior IIRC. Shingles? Something like that. I just waited until I got hungry and stopped at the next place. I think in tourist season it gets the drive by’s. This was off season so slower times. IIRC tipping was discouraged … but I did make sure to run up a big bill ;-)

    Sidebar on Wine Sales:

    FWIW, when buying that bottle of wine at Sprouts, I got carded!. Had fun joking with the clerk lady about “maybe I ought not have shaved off my white beard.” ;-) It seems they put in place some kind of Always Card Everyone policy. So want to buy wine at Sprouts, even if you are on Medicare and have a white beard and hair starting to go white? Better have I.D.

    Today we turned in our Recycle Cans & Bottles. They get dumped into a hopper and weighed then you take a chit to the window to turn it in for cash. At the window? Must show I.D. Yup, to recycle your trash you must show I.D. That means that trash is more important that your vote. Think about it…

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    On Wine Blending:

    I think I’ve created a monster of myself… I decided to try a cringe-worthy blending experiment. At Sprouts, bought the 2 lowest price wines on their shelf. One was $2.99 and the other was $3.99 for a fifth ( 750 ml really…)

    The Tisdale Shiraz (no vintage date, Modesto “region” so hot central valley where most bulk wines are produced with high sugar and low tannins / acid / flavor ;-) 13.9% alcohol so you know it was grown fast and hot)

    I would describe it as strong to rough, with notes of varnish and old machinery… Drinkable, if you’ve had a few of something else first.

    The Crane Lake Malbec (Vintage 2018, vinted and bottled by a company with a Napa address, but undoubtedly also grown and fermented in the Central Valley somewhere).

    I would describe this one as thin verging on tasteless with overtones of old socks…

    Yet blend the two 50:50 it becomes something else. Smoother, drinkable. Complexity without annoyance. Not a spectacular wine, but something I’d not notice as anything other than a nice wine if poured into my glass. The “just too much” of varnish and tasteless old socks become interesting when diluted down to some other flavor. The thin and rough balancing out each other. The tasteless and the overbearing arriving at a nice neutral zone of flavor.

    I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to try this again. Then again, a nice wine at an average of $3.50 / bottle is not something to dismiss lightly. (Though next time I may move up to the $4 and $5 wines ;-)

    But what this experiment has taught me is that even the lowest tier wine can be “blended up” to something better, and you do not need to blend it with something good to get there. Find the complementary faults and blend out the faults.

    But today is Sushi Friday, so I’ll be having Sake instead with dinner. Yes, we have lamb every Thursday and sushi every Friday… It’s a thing ;-)

  4. philjourdan says:

    On the leg of lamb, I would have bought it, cooked it and frozen the left overs! But alas I am a mackerel snapper and this is Good Friday so instead I treated myself (for the first time in my life I indulged) to pre-packaged blue crab meat! @$24 a pound outrageous!!! But this was my first transgression.

    And it was so SWEET! Rock crabs, Dungenes, and all that West coast crap just cannot hold a candle to Chesapeake Blue Crabs! (they do go all the way down into the gulf, the bad part is that you always get some shell in the picked meat. The good news is – Who cares??????)

    And my wine of choice with Blue Crab? A tart Merlot.

    Cheers to your dinner!

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m likely to go back and buy it some time. At that moment I was not sure how much cash was left on the debit card… I only move limited amounts from ONE account (not used for much else so not a lot of history to use in attacking it) to the Debit Card (done via check at an ATM so again no trail left on the internet) then the Debit card rapidly run down to near zero.

    I’d call it paranoia but for the rate at which card companies and retail being hacked and all the data sucked off hits the news…

    So “go ahead and get my card data”. At most it is a $200 hit, and at the first Aw Shit the card will go to zero and sit there. No way to swim up stream to any other card or account and no way to get any further utility out of it.

    My structure is one account where the SS checks and anything else gets deposited. NO retail at all done from that account. ONLY checks written go to another bank account via an ATM. That isolates the two. Then that account has a Debit Card and it is used for retail purchases. ( I also have a Walmart Card that is refilled with smaller cash deposits for use at anywhere I think is risky. For $5 / month I buy that extra layer of isolation / security. Well worth it IMHO.)

    So deposits to one. Another for the “couple of hundred” sized stuff. Then the lowest level for “crap buys under $40″… Risk profile increase matched to at risk decrease…

    Paranoid? Nope. I sleep just fine as various hacks are announced and the world panics.

  6. philjourdan says:

    @EM – you are not paranoid if they really are out to get you!

    My debit is set to $1500. When I found out, I asked them to reduce it. Their reply was because it was a DBA, no can do. So I reduced my negative balance (the point at which my account in my checkbook says empty) to $500. Moved the rest to a savings account (that pays zero point zero zero zero whatever ) interest rate. Not doing it for the interest. just in case.

    So I understand. And come Sunday, I will find some lamb and join you! If only my wife was not the daughter of a cattle ranch foreman!!!!

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    So buy a nice steak to cook for her and you get the whole leg to yourself! Say “Dear, I love you so much I bought you this big steak to save you from the mutton.” ;-)

    I occasionally will put several $Hundred on the middle account if there’s something big I need to pay (like car repair bills). That’s exposed for maybe 3 days between deposit and payment. So not a lot of worry. A “hack” would need to be silent until that moment, then hit in low integer days before it is gone… Highly unlikely.

    WHY do I do this?

    A few decades back, despite my requesting ZERO electronic funds transfer facilities on my checking account… A charge for about $30 / month showed up. This was a surprise as I rarely did any checks and did zero electronic transfers.

    Bottom line was that I’d written ONE check to a guy for carpet cleaning in a rental house. He’d used that Routing Number to sign up for a Porn Site online. OK… after a LOT of research and haggling and bank intimidation and Porn Site Vendor intimidation… (details in earlier comments / postings…) I was refunded my 3 months worth of charges (yes, I didn’t look at my check statements for 2 months…) and then closed the account. Why close the account? Because the Bank said they could not turn off electronic transfers…

    So that’s when I adopted the multi-bank process. One for deposits. Another for expenditures. Isolated transfer bank to bank via check between them. CASH isolation of at risk card used at random spots. NO checks written to anyone other than major corporations and then only from limited account with cash deposited just prior to check writing.

    The things we must do to undo the “features” shoved at us against our will…

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    Because it is Friday and I’ve had a bit of wine and sometimes I end up in German…

    Usually French when I’m happy or Spanish when I’m morose…but German comes up when I’m unsettled… Go figure… (FWIW English when I’m in “tidy mind” zone)

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    As someone who is always awake when the moon is overhead, and that is often awake middle of the solar night…

    Creature of the night…

  10. Sera says:

    I’ve used lard in an iron skillet, but never olive oil. Can you reuse the oil after frying? How does it taste compared to lard?

  11. cdquarles says:

    My sister and I have both had issues with electronic transfers, so we both have a minimum of two accounts: one for deposit and one for general use. One gets the money withdrawn for cash and the other gets cash deposited as needed. I have a low limit credit card for any automatic bill paying needs. I have set the other accounts to must be initiated by me for any electronic transactions. I watch my accounts closely, too; and will not wait for the monthly transaction statement.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    I buy the big jugs of “lite in flavor” Olive Oil at Costco or similar and decant it into a bottle with pour spout that sits on the stove. For just about everything I fry in a pan I use either olive oil or butter or a mix of both. The oil is a light flavor type (i.e. not the dark green or ‘virgin’ or dark heavily flavored types) so does little to the flavor of whatever is cooked in it.

    Yes, it can be reused. I’ll often put a bit in the cast iron and then just “let it run” through several different cooking cycles (until something leaves too much “stuff” in the pan in terms of crusty bits…). For example, the thin layer in the pan of lamb has now added the lamb fat and crusty bits. That set up solid and white when cool and will be made into gravy today ;-) Then only after I have my spuds and gravy, the pan will be cleaned.

    I used it for deep frying in my electric skillet and wok for a while, pouring it into a jar when cool and storing that in the fridge for several cycles. Then bought a large block of beef tallow and find I like it better for deep frying (though not by a lot… ) Note that if you deep fat fry chicken in olive oil, over time the chicken fat (schmaltz) renders out and into the olive oil. This makes it even tastier and also causes it to set up solid in the fridge. I liked it better from about the 3 rd use onward as it gets more flavorful ;-)

    Lard has more flavor and “aroma”. Due to it having the word “hydrogenated” on the package for almost all of it here, I tend not to use it anymore. (Trans-fats are truly evil and hydrogenation can and does make a lot of them. Fully hydrogenated can end in saturated fats, but they don’t tell you how much of what was made…) Instead I’ve swapped to beef tallow and coconut or palm oil for my solid fats. FWIW I like the pure white palm oil shortening the best, but it is a bit hard to find sometimes (it is sold in a tub at WalMart sometimes though), so mostly I use coconut oil or tallow. I do not miss the flavor of lard at all. And I’m happy the “aroma” of it is no longer around…

    So mostly what happens using Olive Oil in frying is you lose the lard aroma.

    For deep fat frying Olive Oil is OK as it is a mono-unsaturated oil (higher smoke point than seed oils like soy bean, corn, etc.) and it doesn’t make acrylamides like the seed oils. But really you want saturated fats in deep fat frying as they have zero tendency to make bad stuff and have nice high smoke points. Beef fat (tallow) and palm oil both being very good. (Not palm kernel oil that’s redish and not the same…) Pure Coconut foams in frying so while it tastes great it has logistical issues ;-) But add 10% to beef tallow and it recreates the McDonald’s French Fries of old very nicely ;-)

    FWIW, I do stock one small bottle of seed oil (safflower if I can find it, otherwise canola or whatever) for use in things like baking (cakes, muffins,..) or where a neutral flavor is mandatory. Olive Oil (“lite in flavor” type) does work OK but the spouse likes to know it’s going to be like it always was…

    Fats I stock in order of importance and use:

    Butter – used for frying eggs & French Toast, and in a 50/50 mix with Olive Oil for vegetables, shrimp and stuff that benefits from the added flavor. And, of course, the traditional uses on toast and hot vegetables… Can be used for everything but salad dressing and deep fat frying if it is all you have.

    Olive Oil – for salad dressing, Frying meats or really anything that is a thin layer of oil. Often mixed with butter for things like sautee of mushrooms, onions, whatever. Can deep fat fry in it. Liquid oils not preferred in pastries as you don’t get flaky crusts, but if it is all you have and you can live with the harder crusts, it can be done.

    Beef Tallow or Palm Oil Shortening – for deep fat frying mostly and some baking as shortening. Pastries need sold fat layers between flour bits to make the flaky texture and palm oil (actually a solid white fat / shortening) is great for that. I’ve not yet tried tallow.

    Coconut Oil – for making bread and in a 10% mix with 90% tallow for french fries. Generally good in anything but deep frying where it tends to foam. (but at 10% does not foam but adds flavor). Ought to work in pastries but I’ve not tried it yet. Some is neutral flavored and aroma (Walmart), some other “Natural” types have more coconut fragrance to them like the brand sold at Costco. VERY good for your health as very short chain saturated fatty acids are metabolically “special”. (Butter and coconut oil being among the best. Short to medium chain fats also found in lamb and goat products so goat milk is your friend too ;-) Can be used for frying in a thin layer, and does nicely for sautee of vegetables in Asian dishes where a buttery flavor is out of place.

  13. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – re: Recurring charges

    I recently had a similar experience, but with a credit card. My wife went to one of those automated car wash places and paid with a card. Ok, saw the charge, no biggee. But then the next month I got an Internet charge for the same place in the same amount on the card. I challenged it – I stated the reason – how does one do an Internet car wash? But the credit card company came back and said “See? A Legitimate Internet charge!”

    So I immediately put it back into hold, and then called the credit card company and told them to cancel the card so the cretins could not keep charging my card. Then they got very cooperative and agreed to cancel the Internet charge (for a car wash???) and block that company from charging my card any more.

    I am lazy. I charge everything (especially now with the coin shortage and the aversion of cashiers to touch money – at one place they extend a collection plate like in the churches!). So I regularly charge from $1500 to $3000 per month on that card (and during the trifecta of Anniversary, Christmas and Birthday, a LOT MORE). I pay it off every month, but they are making a killing on the fees. So I have no doubt that profit was their motivation.

  14. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – Re: Major Tom

    Ausgezeichnet! I understood every word! It helped that I know the English version well, but the German was not hard either.

  15. Sera says:

    Nice- I’ll try it out.

  16. Chris Morris says:

    EM that lake (Taupo) in the middle is where I live. An active volcano in the geological time scales. We still have a lot of software development but very niche – a lot of movie special effects (think Avatar,, Lord of the Rings stuff)and sports software showing America’s Cup (which we won again) cricket and golf where the ball was going.
    I don’t think you would like the politics here – a lot more European social liberalism to what is in the US.. There are more than a few US expats but they are mainly West Coast liberals (james Cameron of Avatar fame is one). Though my neighbour as well as an old flatmate were both from Texas. There are also a number who only come here for our summer – a lot more temperate than what you get, but even in the deep south, we don’t get your winters.
    The big thing in NZ for both beef and lamb/ hogget is they graze the animal almost exclusively on grass – and that is mostly green because we get rain all year round. A lot of overseas customers find the meat tastes different to feedlot animals. Even most of our milking cows are on pasture year round. Some of the pastures have a lot of pennyroyal growing in them- can give the meat a mint flavour but I don’t think its marketed as such. Plenty of venison, pork and goat around here, both farmed and feral. Also Trout in the rivers and lakes and salmon in the South Island east coast rivers. All introduced in last 150 years. The hunting fishing lobby in provincial NZ is very strong. It common to see 4X4 wellside or flatdeck utes with carpet on the bonnet to bring home the kill – the back tray normally has the kennels for the dogs or the quadbikes.

  17. philjourdan says:

    @Chris Morris – Kansas boasts of “Corn fed beef”. I have tried it, but did not note a better taste than farm lot or open range. But that is their claim to fame.

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    A big difference is one you do not taste.

    Grain / corn fed animals have high Omega 6 fatty acid ratios.
    Grass fed animals have high Omega 3 fatty acid ratios.

    High omega 6 correlates with lots of inflammation and auto-immune issues.
    High omega 3 correlates with lower inflammation and lower immunity issues.

    You have one enzyme system that converts both into different end products. One increases inflammation the other decreases it. It is the ratio of the two source inputs competing for enzyme time that determines the resultant product levels… Historically human diets were about 6:1 or even 4:1 Omega-6:Omgega-3. Now many western diets are closer to 22:1 (and we wonder why we have so much pain, inflammatory disease and arthritis…)

    Eat more leaves and things that eat leaves and grasses. Eat less grains and things fed grains. Feel better….

  19. H.R. says:


    It’s the day after Easter and the local Kroger was taking a markdown on their leg of lamb.

    I got an 8.33 lb. leg of lamb for $20.00!!!

    The pre-Easter price was $9.99/lb. So the price on Saturday and Sunday was $83.xx. There were five legs left in the meat case and they were all marked $20.00. The smallest was 5-point-something pounds and I just went through and found the largest one, since they were all $20.00.

    New Zealand?…. Aussie?….. Nope. American lamb.

    That’s really odd, because most lamb I pick up is AU or NZ. I did mention a long while back that Kroger always bought the State Fair Champion Lamb and also bought the other participants’ lambs. Then they’d have a sale of State Fair Lamb for a week or so after the fair. Really good lamb, that. But day-to-day? It’s always the imported stuff.

    Has anyone done smoked lamb? I would think the strong flavors of wood smoke and lamb would compete a bit too much, but then everything tastes better cooked over an open fire.

    Ehh… I might just give it a shot and see how it works out. I’d only be out $20, not $80+ if it doesn’t come out as nice as oven roasting.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    I got ta find me a Krogers…

    You could just cut a chunk off and smoke that, then if it is great, smoke the rest, if not, roast it…

  21. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – that just confuses the issue. Why then would Kansas tout “corn fed beef”. From your analysis it seems there are no benefits and no difference in taste.

  22. Compu Gator says:

    Why assume that beef marketing is based on demonstrable truths?  At its least ethical, it requires only lies that can be presented in a believable manner.

    The .com Web sites of commercial producers, embody practically unavoidable biases: They promote the breeds and raising techniques on which they’ve based their businesses.

    Of course, readers can refer to the Wikip. article:

    I imagine that it’s been the scene of several grain-vs.-grass edit-wars. If I were deeply concerned, I suppose I could review, but it’s not an issue for which I feel motivated to enter whatever rabbit holes I might find.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    Grain Fed was known to make a fatter cow so “marbling” in the meat. Grass fed is leaner. Way Back When the fat and marbling were called a big feature (and do make for a better flavor). But now we know that flavor and pain come together with all those Omega-6 fats…

    My solution is grass fed and fry it in butter ;-)

  24. philjourdan says:

    Way Back When the fat and marbling were called a big feature (and do make for a better flavor).

    Uncle! The fat gives the beef (and lamb and pork) flavor! So now I understand! Thank you for that. SO corn fed beef has higher fat, which means better taste. But only if you order a fatty piece (I did not).

Comments are closed.