Imagine my delirious delight when I find an email in my inbox from one of my favourite food bloggers grabyourfork informing me that I'm one of the lucky winners of a Lovedale Long Lunch pack. The Lovedale Long Lunch is a progressive lunch set across 7 vineyards who pair up with 7 restaurants to offer food and wine at each vineyard and you make your way by car or shuttlebus to each vineyard to sample the goodies.
I was lucky enough to receive:
- 2 x Main Meal tickets that include a complimentary glass of wine $20 each
- 2 x Dessert/Cheese tickets $8 each
- 2 x Commemorative Long Lunch glasses $5 each
- 2x Long Lunch Caps $15 each
- 2x Rover Coach Shuttle Tickets for the day $25 each (for travel between vineyards)
Total Prize Value $146
Jumping up and down aside, I assembled my husband's family for a nice little weekend trip away to the Hunter Valley staying at the Cypress Lakes resort.
When we arrived we picked up my prize pack from Allendale winery which is completely buzzing with nary a spare seat to be seen. As the vegetarians needed to be fed, we head off to Sandalyn Estate so that they can have some Homemade pan fried gnocchi with roasted duck, baby spinach and toasted pistachio. It needs a bit of flavour to it and the texture of the gnocchi is different to other gnocchi I have tried, not quite my taste. We meat eaters satisfy our peckishness with their cheese plate- a selection of gourmet cheeses accompanied with mustard fruit. This proves to be a nice selection of cheeses, crackers and fig paste, nuts and dried apricots and upon later inspection of cheese plates at other wineries, one of the more bountiful cheese plates. We can't leave without buying some of their fabulously smooth fudge in rum & raisin and apricot & macadamia.
Now that the vegetarians are sated, we set off to Gartelmann Hunter Estate to try Chez Pok's offering. I am so taken by the sound of their food (and admittedly hungry) that we use both of our main meal tickets here and try Honey and oregano seared chicken on a warm potato and bean mash, topped with a tomato and corn salsa and a drizzle of Gartelmann Extra Virgin olive oil and the Barbecued succulent lamb, marinated in fresh rosemary - served with wholesome paprika spiced cous cous, parsley & pumpkin salad and garlic butter ciabatta. I'm afraid there are no pics of this as you can't stand between hungry men and ask them to stop and take pictures. My favourite was undoubtedly the chicken, soft and tender on a delicious mash accented with a tangy salsa. My sister in law tried the Baked sweet pastry tart with rum and raisin ricotta, sharp lemon curd and butterscotch caramel and she shared this with me which was an extraordinarily generous gesture given how delicious this tart was. Mental note to self: must eat at Chez Pok!
I was given a free bottle of wine voucher and although I wanted to redeem it at Gartelmann the officious and very unfriendly salesperson (also called Lorraine) would not allow me to use it as she did not consider a "sticky" as a wine. Boo, I think you've just lost a customer forever and I do love my dessert wine!
Moving right along and away from that unpleasantness, we head back to Allandale winery as the atmosphere seemed much more jovial and buzzy. After walking past their selection of mains, I desperately wanted to try the Infuzion lamb shank braised in Tuscan herbs of sage and rosemary - served on a bed of basil hinted mash with cabernet jus but had only a small amount of stomach room left which I had saved for dessert.
So dessert it was! We tried the Trio of citrus tart with blueberry coulis, raspberry and white chocolate mousse, and chocolate and walnut brownie. The mousse was a lovely spoonful of lightness but I think the citrus tart tasted a bit like it was filled with blueberry jam and the brownie lacked the rich gooeyness characteristic of a good brownie and felt a tad overcooked and dry.
At 4pmish I think they were rapidly running out of desserts as some of the items from the cheese plate were missing, as you can see there was only one type of cheese in the Infuzion cheese plate: the King Island camembert, fig paste, olives and lavosh with the Netherby Blue cheddar missing. Ah well Allendale were kind enough to honour the wine voucher and I got my hands on a bottle of their prized Anna 2005 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc sticky!
A lot of sun and some people watching we retired quite happily to the Cypress Lakes resort to partake in sauna and cable movies!