Champagne & Pumpkins


The incredible set up for the Cullen Chardonnay Tasting in the winery and well over 100 serious tasters

Happy Champagne Day – what a wonderful day to share a bottle with family and friends? I am using it as an excuse to take a bottle to friends who have been overseas for four months and am calling my private event Lyndey’s Champagne Reunion. You too can do this, and whether you do or not, depending when you read this newsletter, here is a guide on How to join champagne day. It has instructions on real champagne, how to open a bottle and a Spotify play list. sorry for the late notice.

Last week I was so fortunate to attend 38th Cullen Chardonnay Tasting to blind taste 24 carefully selected 2019 chardonnays from around the world. This is such a generous tradition, designed to benchmark Margaret River Chardonnays against the world’s best from France, America, New Zealand and Australia. It reinforces the quality of Margaret River wines and Cullen wines. Speaking to the last bracket of wines, wine expert John Jens gave a fascinating overview of the incredible success of Margaret River chardonnay in winning trophies at Australian Capital City Wine Shows and also international competitions. When the wines were revealed, those from the Margaret River certainly scored well in my notes though the Ramey Russian Valley from Napa was right up there too.

Cullen Wines is the only biodynamic and carbon positive winery in the Margaret River region, with the business built around a philosophy of quality, integrity and sustainability. I visited some years after their 2004 biodynamic certification and, though it was winter, the canes on the dormant vines had a lustrousness compared to others which just looked grey and lifeless. The proof is certainly in the wines themselves.

There is an incredible biodynamic spiral garden suitable for all ages to follow the fascinating biodynamic process that is employed throughout the winery and the gardens at Cullen. Visitors can touch, feel and read about the actions and concepts for themselves, from the development of Steiner’s preparations, to the flow form series of vortexes.

Then I was fortunate to have a couple of days with friends in Fremantle. I haven’t been there since the America’s Cup and really enjoyed seeing the whole area and especially the Shipwreck and Maritime Museums. Highly recommended, particularly the Under the Dome Cinema Experience and not only because my friend is the creator of this immersive experience where patrons can enjoy three different documentary films which he made in   this unique, boutique, 22-seat, 180° curved dome cinema with 5.1 surround sound.

Meanwhile my latest post and recipe for Comfort Food for Grief has been published here. If you wanted to know more about Tasting Success, my female chef mentoring programme which I featured last week, there is a lovely article in Inside Foodservice. And also a short video we shot when I was delivering media training.

My promised ideas for Halloween are below. Please stay in touch with me on Facebook and Instagram or email me with your requests or comments. 

Happy cooking, eating, drinking and travelling– Lyndey x

TOP: the six seasons in the indigenous calendar acknowledged in the garden; BOTTOM L: my tasting glasses with 24 chardonnays and R: the biodynamic spiral garden at Cullen (photo Frances Andrijick)

Recipes of the week

Celebrate the flavours of spring with beautiful burrata (native to Puglia)
Mangoes have come down price now with the season in full swing

Fun with Wine


Here’s another in my series, Fun with Wine. This time it’s all about food which goes with champagne.  Find out more in this video by clicking here.  Just remember if you ever want to pair champagne with something sweet, choose a sec style of champagne and keep the sugar level in the food below that in the champagne.
If you would like to see more of my videos on both food and wine, subscribe to my YouTube channel
 HERE or follow me on Instagram.

Happy Halloween

Jack O’Lanterns are not difficult to make

Have your pumpkin and eat it too?
None of us like waste, so read on for how to make  Jack O’Lantern AND how to use up the thre rest of the pumpkin you scoop out.

For the Jack O’Lantern
Cut a medium-size circle in the bottom of the pumpkin with a long thin serrated knife; the hole should be large enough for your hand to get in but not be visible once you stand the pumpkin up. Make two cuts from the outside of this circle to form a small triangle-shaped notch. Poke this out and pull the rest of the circle away from the pumpkin. Use a large metal spoon or icecream scoop to remove the insides.

Pumpkin Recipes
Pumpkin soup is a perennial favourite. Here it is given an Asian twist with the addition of spice and coconut to make a lovely Pumpkin and Coconut Soup.
Fried pumpkin balls are popular all over Greece, inexpensive and easy to make..
Risotto bianco is a basic risotto recipe which can be added to at will. Add chunks of roasted or pan-fried pumpkin and stir through some baby spinach leaves.
Gnocchi with pumpkin, horseradish and spinach – this is an unusual but delicious sauce and great with any pasta.
Here are some fun Halloween cupcake decorating ideas.

Fun things to do with Jack O’ Lanterns after Halloween
Some creative ideas which may make you laugh:

  • use it as a planter – scrape pumpkin out (cook with the flesh in one of the recipes), drill holes for drainage and add potting soil and plants;
  • use for bird seed – cut holes in each side with a skewer or sharp knife thread through some string to hang from trees and fill with seed to attract the birds;
  • make a face mask with 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, 1/2 teaspoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon milk. Apply to clean skin and leave to set for 20 minutes before washing off.

Tips & Techniques

Crepes Suzette

Crepes 101
Given that we are celebrating champagne, which is French, I thought it would be fun to share my foolproof technique for crepes in Crepes 101, along with my recipe for the French classic, Crêpes Suzette. Note my comments above about matching food with champagne.
Now that mangoes are properly in season here’s How to pick a ripe mango.

All About Bivalves
Sydney Seafood School puts out an excellent weekly newsletter.
This one is excellent in explaining about oyster, scallops, mussels, clams, cockles, pips and vongole.

A Fun Poll on Pasta

This week to celebrate World Pasta Day, I put up a poll on my social media accounts with a link to some of my recipes and asked respondents to vote on their favourite recipes. While some people commented on other recipes, above are the results from those of mine which I published. As you can see, carbonara won with double the preferences of the next two – including orecchiette with broccoli raab – something you have to eat in glorious Puglia. Find my pasta recipes here.

Moroccan Culinary Tour

Did you know that Morocco has some incredible Roman ruins, Volubilis? An outstanding site which we visit on my tour

Join my next culinary tour to Morocco from Saturday 27 April – Wednesday 8 May 2024 organised with Carol Prior from By Prior Arrangement who has 40 years experience and peerless contacts there.

“It was the most amazing experience – sights, smells, and sounds of Morocco still a wonderful memory. Beautiful accommodation; outstanding local guides; perfect host in Lyndey Milan OAMexcellent meals of local delicacies; brilliant group camaraderie; and one-off experiences and all of this made easy peasy by booking though By Prior Arrangement.Perfect organisation – nothing for guests to do, apart from imbibe and enjoy. Outstanding value.”
September/October 2022

Taking in the best Morocco has to offer, this authentic gastronomic experience will see you visiting ancient palaces and medinas and enjoying exclusive dining experiences.

We will travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and then onto intoxicating Marrakech, the red city. On the way, we will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. Together, we will discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in humble local eateries and upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads.


  • Personal hosting by me
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • Meals as per itinerary: breakfast daily, 7 lunches, 11 dinners with ½ bottle of wine per person
  • Transportation throughout in luxury air-conditioned vehicles with professional experienced English-speaking driver, including related expenses and allowing for physical distancing
  • 4×4 pick up and drop off to and from the desert camp
  • Bottled mineral water and hand sanitiser in the vehicle daily
  • English-speaking local licensed guides in Rabat, Volubilis, Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira with all entrance fees included to the sites visited with the guides
  • Atlas excursion including mules and the specialist trek guide
  • 2 cooking classes
  • Local tourist taxes
  • Porterage
  • Restaurant tips
  • Drivers and guides gratuities
  • Bank transfer and currency fluctuation fees

Cost $10,000 per person (twin share).
More information HERE, full itinerary HERE or email me or with any questions.

L: always so much to see in the souk and R: we stay in beautiful ryads

Puglia Culinary Adventure – May 2024

We have an amazing walking tour in Matera, then time for lunch and to shop

Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata
Spend an unforgettable week with me learning the secrets of a deeply passionate and undiscovered region of Southern Italy. Puglia is the sun-drenched heel of the boot that spans two seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian. Basilicata is its neighbour to the West. Both agricultural regions are abundant with healthy soil, over 50 million olive trees and a tradition of wine growing that has seen a fabulous dynamism in the last ten years. This area produces some of the most exciting food and wines on the planet. With award-winning Southern Visions Travel.

“Puglia in southern Italy is the home of fabulous fresh food.  Because it is off the ‘beaten tourist track’, it is an exceptional culinary experience.  Lyndey knows Puglia well and, as your host, you will find her warm, friendly and so very knowledgeable about food and wine.  Lyndey provides very personal attention to all her guests.  I, personally learned so much about food from her.
When travelling overseas, you have to worry about ‘when things go wrong’.   I was in this position and needed medical care.   The travel Company managing the tour went ‘above and beyond’ to ensure that I was well looked after to ensure I got home safely.”

Di October 2022

Trip Highlights 

  • An in-depth visit to the UNESCO site of Matera, with free time to explore and shop
  • Bakery visit in Altamura at a DOP bakery
  • Visit to the Trullo Capital, UNESCO Heritage Site, Alberobello
  • A hands-on cooking class with a Nonna and me 
  • Insider’s look at burrata cheese making from cow to table 
  • Salsa di Pomodoro tomato experience
  • Olive grove tour and oil tasting at an ancient olive oil estate
  • Private lunch at Li Veli Winery
  • Visits to Lecce and Ostuni (the White City)
  • A half day on the water from Polignano a Mare followed by a seafood lunch

Cost $7439 per person (twin share).
Full itinerary and enquiries here or email me.

L: with the trulli houses in Alberobello and R: traditional bread making