Good food, great wines and fire places to warm the soul. There’s something magical about the Hunter Valley in winter.
I was there just the other weekend to check out Hunter Valley’s Wine & Food Month. I dined on a seven-course degustation dinner, I learned the art of glass blowing and I ate some of the most amazing meals in my life. And of course, I tasted plenty of local wines.
It was a weekend worth repeating.
Trust The Chef.
I attended the first Trust The Chef degustation dinner at newly opened Twine Restaurant and I can’t rave about it enough.
The evening was a mix of locals and tourists coming together to drink lots of wine while dining on a creative, delicious menu of unexpected flavour infusions.
The Trust The Chef concept is a great yet simple one – put your taste buds in the hands of your chef and let him take care of the rest. No decision making required.
Our chef for the evening was Matt Dillow, owner of Twine Restaurant (as well as The Verandah Restaurant and soon to open The Deck Cafe). He cooked up our five course meal (actually he was feeling inspired and served up seven courses!) in front of our very eyes.
It’s hard to pick a favourite but amongst my Top 2 was the Duck & Lamb Pie and Matt’s famous Chocolate Souffle.
Wine connoisseur Ben Mainuu from Wynwood Estate picked out the best wine to complement each course. We started with their new 2013 Cherry Blossom Moscato – we were the first to try it. Loved it, and the label too.
Twine Restuarant are hosting their Trust The Chef degustation evenings every Saturday for the month of June, with some extra events being scheduled over the next 12 months due to popular demand. Price – $120pp (includes a five course meal and matched wines), twinerestaurant.com.au
Try It: Glass Blowing.
I remember the first time I saw glass blowing: it was in Venice and I was 12 years old. I found it fascinating.
To be able to try it for myself and walk away with my own vase creation was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My lesson was held at the Ogishi Craft Centre by Setsuko Ogishi; she is one of just a few women glassblowers in Australia.
Glass blowing is serious business – with extremely hot glass and furnaces all around, it can be a little nerve wracking. But Setsuko and her husband are great teachers, and very hands on (which is probably why my vase turned out so well!). There’s not many places you can go that will actually let you get in there and have a go like this. It’s a must-try.
And yes, those are cut-out soccer socks on my arms… for protection!
Glass blowing lessons are $165pp (for a class of two people), ogishi.com.au
The Mexican Villa.
There is no shortage of amazing accommodation in the Hunter Valley, especially if you’re looking for a Bed & Breakfast stay. Going one better than that is Casa La Vina.
They have just three villas which are perfect for an intimate couples getaway. I loved the architecture, which was inspired by New Mexico’s traditional ‘pueblo’ style.
The studio villas are spacious, rustic and you can’t beat a fire place in your living room. If you can, be sure to book the villa with the Jacuzzi spa under the stars.
My Weekend In Pics.
A weekend at the Hunter Valley isn’t complete unless you’ve visited a handful of wineries and eaten so much wonderful food that you need to be rolled home.
Here’s just some of the food, wine and scenery I devoured over the weekend.
The road to Wyndham Estate.
This is just the beginning. Chicken Fettuccine at Il Cacciatore.
You can’t beat a roaring fire during winter. Casa La Vina.
Off to a wine tasting we go. Scarborough On Hermitage.
A fireside High Tea at Tower Lodge.
Love the southern inspired decor at Casa La Vina.
Looking calm & collected as I take my glass out of the furnace.
An impromptu stop at one of Hunter Valley’s many wineries. They had me at ‘Awesome’.
Chocolate Lava Pudding with Salted Caramel Gelato. How could I say no?! Il Cacciatore Restaurant.
Glass ornaments by Setsuko Ogishi.
Crystal Bay prawns with pancetta, linguini, preserved lemon and chilli at The Olive Tree Restaurant.
A lesson in wines at Wyndham Estate.
Sunset while driving through the Hunter Valley countryside.
This pie. Life changing. The Twine Restaurant.
Enjoying the Pinot Noir Rose at Scarborough On Hermitage.
Coffee served in vintage tea cups at The Olive Tree Restaurant.
The wine barrels of Wyndham Estate.
Chef Matt pouring his chocolate into the souffle, so to speak.
The bush is my backyard. Casa La Vina.
Spiced cardamom cake. Seriously good.
Hunter Valley summed up in a few words.
Giving glass blowing a go.
Lovely place for a Sunday lunch in the sun.
Chocolate souffle and dessert wine. I. Am. Done.
The house that George built. (Home of George Wyndham – the ‘Father of Australian Shiraz’).
Chocolate Mousse Cake at The Olive Tree Restaurant. The perfect end to my weekend.
To find more about the special events going on at The Hunter Valley this month (including gnocchi making classes at Il Cacciatore and paella cooking classes at The Verandah) check out huntervalleyuncorked.com.au
I went to the Hunter Valley courtesy of Hunter Valley WIne Country Tourism. Thank you to the team for making my weekend a wonderful feast of food, wine and more.