Who is Nathan Brown? I’m the winemaker and owner of Linear Wines. We make wines in the Canberra District from the region and surrounds – small batches all worked by hand.
Best recent dining experience: We had my birthday meal at Morks Thai restaurant in Kingston and it never fails to please. I’m always torn between trying something new or ordering old favourites because they’re just too good to resist. The tasting menu takes the decision out of my hands and provides a perfect combination of some of their best dishes.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Instant gravy. There’s nothing better than homemade gravy from scratch, but sometimes that’s just not possible and, let’s face it, instant gravy is better than no gravy, and it has a kind of nostalgic appeal.
Must-buy ingredient: Chilli. I love things spicy and all the different ways you can add it to dishes – from fresh to dried to fermented.
Next big thing: My next big thing is to take my family overseas and experience doing a vintage internationally. I had my head and heart set on Italy before COVID hit, and it was disappointing to cancel. Then a Tassie vintage plan was cancelled at the last minute too. It’s definitely something at the top of my to-do list.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: We love giving our three-year-old daughter Harper some good dining-out experiences and weekend breakfasts are a great way to do that. Recently we’ve enjoyed Penny University in Kingston and Pialligo Farm Shop Cafe. We also love riding our bikes over to our local, Gang Gang Cafe and Bar at Downer shops. They have some seriously good toasties on their new menu.
My Canberra food secret: I love a sneaky quick lunch or dinner at The Italian Place in Braddon. Its single row of tables and authentic, traditional meals with friendly service reminds me of some of our favourite moments in Italy. I can’t wait for those times again.
Biggest culinary influence: Travel. Authenticity and traditional cuisines have always made me excited about food. I’ve always found a certain appeal in South East Asian street food and small village home cooks. On our trip to Italy in 2012 we visited a truffle farming family in the Umbrian hills and their non-English-speaking nonna taught us to make pasta from scratch with their fresh truffles. It was one of the highlights of my culinary travels.
Favourite cookbook: We have so many at home but I do have a soft spot for Mr Hong by Dan Hong. We love a good foodie weekend away, and Mr Wong Cantonese restaurant in Sydney, where Dan Hong is executive chef, is an all-time fave. It’s so satisfying to create one of your restaurant favourites in your own kitchen and I love that this book has a lot of options that aren’t so complicated you need to commit a whole weekend to them. His kung pao chicken is second to none and a regular in our household.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I think the world of the team at Pilot restaurant at Ainslie Shops. They took a humble brasserie and turned it into a sophisticated dining room in the inner north. The food is on point and I think you can feel the connection between the kitchen and dining room when you eat there.
What’s on the menu this week? We always love pasta night. We make fresh pasta with the eggs from our chickens and it’s a great way to use leftover ingredients to make it different each week. My little one also loves celebrating Friday with burger night at home, which we mix up with different burger styles and put on our matching burger socks! It’s always a good excuse to try a new wine, too.
Where I’m going next: We definitely need to go to Ondine European Brasserie in Deakin again. My wife and I love that style of eating and order as many small things as we can to share, just to make sure we get a taste of it all.
Death row meal: A really, really good steak – just a good piece of beef tenderloin rubbed in a handful of salt and cooked on a very hot flat grill with fries (and please make sure the Bearnaise sauce has a nice hint of fresh French tarragon). To go with that, you will just need a couple of glasses of shiraz or Sangiovese.
My COVID-19 response: Travelling overseas became impossible so we jumped on the bandwagon for the COVID baby boom and decided to add another member to our family … a few months earlier than we had originally planned to. Looking forward to meeting her in June!
My really simple recipe tip: Nothing tastes as good as fresh ingredients that you’ve just picked from your garden. We have a normal-sized backyard but always make sure we grow seasonal produce including great herbs so we can pick whatever we need for dinner.
Linear Wines’ 2018 Tempranillo, 2019 Sangiovese and 2019 Pinot Noir are available now at local bottles shops, including Ainslie Cellars, Canberra Wine and Spirits, Hops & Vine, Page Bottler, Plonk Fyshwick & Belconnen and Prohibition Bottle Shop. Visit www.linearwines.com.au.
Original Article published by Michelle Rowe on The RiotACT.